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Moscow braces as Wagner PMC approaches Russian capital

Wagner marches on Moscow
Wagner PMC’s march on Moscow. Map by Vyorstka, translated by Euromaidan Press
Moscow braces as Wagner PMC approaches Russian capital

The Russian online media Vyorstka has mapped the march of Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner PMC on Moscow, which we have translated. The data on the map is as of 16:30 Moscow time.

Since its publication, there have been sporadic reports that Wagner is approaching Moscow Oblast, such as Igor Girkin, instrumental to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014, who wrote that Wagner reached Barabanovo village, two hours from Moscow.

According to Vyorstka, the mercenary forces were divided into two groups, which crossed the border between Russia and Russian-occupied Ukraine in two places.

  1. The first group passed through the Novoshakhtinsk checkpoint in the Rostov Oblast around midnight, reached the M-4 highway, and by morning reached Rostov-on-Don, where the headquarters of the Southern Military District is located. Yevgeny Prigozhin himself was part of this group — in Rostov, he met with Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Beck Evkurov and General Alekseev.
  2. The second group crossed the border about 120 km to the north of the first group at the checkpoint of Voloshino. From there, the mercenaries reached the town of Millerovo and turned to the M-4 highway to go toward Moscow.

According to the interlocutors of Vyorstka, the PMC Wagner bypassed Voronezh along the highway and headed further north, engaging in clashes with the units of the Defense Ministry on the way. According to the latest information, the mercenaries have already reached the north of the Lipetsk Oblast – they were seen near the town of Yelets. This means that they have already traveled more than halfway to Moscow.

Law enforcement do not intend to fight Wagner

Vyorstka also talked to law enforcement officials tasked with “greeting” Wagner in Moscow. According to the media, the law enforcement agencies were instructed to act according to the plan “Fortress,” but do not actually intend to fight.

“No one understands what to do. Formally we work on a plan called “Fortress. This is to defend the buildings of the Interior Ministry, to entrench ourselves in the units, and fight back. I am sure that no one will shoot,” a police officer in Moscow’s Southwestern Administrative District told Vyorstka.

An officer of the Russian National Guard in Moscow Oblast said that they were gathered at bases in Moscow with three-days worth of personal items and no comprehensive instructions. However, the fighting spirit was low. “We are not going to fight with the Wagners here for sure,” the National Guardsman said.

The internal affairs officers in the Voronezh, Belgorod, and Lipetsk Oblasts were instructed to “watch out and stay away.”

In the meantime, roadblocks are being reinforced at the entrance to Moscow; there are reports of weapons such as a grenade launcher, an APC, and a convoy of trucks with the OMON riot police in the Russian capital. As well, eyewitnesses noticed military helicopters in the sky, Vyorstka reported.

Attics cleared for firing spots

Vyorstka also reported that the State Budgetary Institution “Zhilishchnik” was instructed to clean the attics of Moscow houses, which may be necessary for the establishment of firing spots.

“Zhilishnik” employees were instructed to clear the attics in the houses in the areas of Teplyi Stan and Yasenevo; no reasons were given, but the employee Vyorstka talked to believes this was to set up firing spots. Important government facilities such as General Staff Academy and the Foreign Intelligence Service headquarters. are located in this district.

Moscow mayor Sobyanin has announced Monday a day off and called upon Muscovites to refrain from trips around the city, Novaya Gazeta reported. The media also found out that since yesterday evening, the members of the Wagner PMC in the Moscow Oblast were ordered “to be ready to move towards the approaching units of the PMC,” sources told the media. As well, Novaya Gazeta found out that Wagner managed to occupy the buildings of the district police departments in the Rostov Oblast already in the night of 24 June, before Prigozhin claimed control of Rostov-on-Don at 7:30.

Wagner coup in detail

In the night of 23 June, Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin accused the Russian MoD of striking a Wagner camp and announced a “march for justice,” vowing to “stop” Moscow’s top military leadership. He set the information conditions for doing so in a revealing interview where he subjected the Russian military leadership to scathing criticism and suggested that Russian oligarchs started the war to rob Ukraine of its assets.

Russia’s official bodies denied any accusations of a strike on Wagner’s rear; the Russian FSB opened a criminal case against Prigozhin and Russia’s top brass called upon Wagner fighters to defy Prigozhin’s orders.

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.

The UK Intelligence has called Prigozhin’s uprising the greatest recent challenge to the Russian state.

Prigozhin has refused to lay down arms and said that Wagner mercenaries were the true “patriots” of Russia.

The Russian media outlet Vazhnye Istorii wrote, referring to its sources in the Presidential Administration, that the Kremlin tried to negotiate with Prigozhin but got rejected.

The Russian human rights project claims that the Wagner coup was planned since autumn 2022 and that its objective is to seize nuclear objects in Russia. The Ukrainian-Crimean Tatar partisan movement Atesh corroborated the nuclear fears, referring to its agent that claimed Wagner is advancing on “375 Object ‘C’” near Borisoglebsk, Voronezh Oblast.

Two pro-Ukrainian units formed of Russian citizens, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and the Russia Freedom Legion (LSR), supported the Wagner Group’s coup against the Russian authorities, and called on their supporters to take action.

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