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Prigozhin’s rebellion is Russia’s greatest recent challenge – UK intel

Prigozhin’s rebellion is Russia’s greatest recent challenge – UK intel

Prigozhin’s armed feud against Russia’s MoD is the “greatest challenge to the Russian state” in recent times, and the reactions of the Russian National Guard and security agencies are key to how the crisis will play out, the UK intelligence said in its latest update.

“In the early hours of 24 June 2023, the feud between Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group and the Russian MoD escalated into outright military confrontation.

In an operation characterised by Prigozhin as a ‘march for freedom’, Wagner Group forces crossed from occupied Ukraine into Russia in at least two locations.

In Rostov-on-Don, Wagner has almost certainly occupied key security sites, including the HQ which runs Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

Further Wagner units are moving north through Vorenezh Oblast, almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow. With very limited evidence of fighting between Wagner and Russian security forces, some have likely remained passive, acquiescing to Wagner.

Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out. This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times,” the UK intelligence wrote.

In the morning of 24 June, Prigozhin, who started his career as “Putin’s chef,” claimed control over military objects in Rostov-on-Don, a city that serves as the headquarters for Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine, stating that the Chief of General Staff ran away when he saw Wagner fighters approaching.

A conflict between Prigozhin and the Russian MoD has been months in the making, and Russian military leaders have sought to limit the role of the leader of Wagner, a private military company that has played a key role in Russia’s assault on Ukrainian cities.

Prigozhin had defied a demand by Russian Defense Ministry that Wagner Group members sign contracts directly, highlighting a deepening conflict within the Russian establishment. Instead, Prigozhin drafted his own “contract” and said he was awaiting an answer from Russia’s military leadership for it. Meanwhile, the deadline for the volunteer fighters to sign contracts with the MoD, 1 July, “is likely to be a key way-point in the feud,” the British intelligence assessed.

Vladimir Putin has vowed to stop the “armed rebellion” of Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Wagner’s columns are reportedly moving on Moscow after bypassing Voronezh.

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