The feud with Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen as the biggest threat facing Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 22 years in power.
Russian mercenaries rebel from Wagner Corporation were on their way to the capital before their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin ordered them back to base to avoid bloodshed.
The latest incident with Prigozhin in a months-long feud with the Russian Defense Ministry over the war in Ukraine is the biggest threat President Vladimir Putin has faced during his 22 years in power.
The group has emerged after joining more and more clear role in the war in Ukraineincluding raising the Russian flag in the city of Bakhmut after a months-long battle.
Here’s a timeline of how events have unfolded since Friday:
- Prigozhin released a video stepping up his feud with Russia’s top military and, for the first time, refuting Putin’s core justification for invading Ukraine.
- In a series of recordings later posted on Telegram, Prigozhin said that the “evil” of the Russian military leadership “must be stopped” and that his force of Wagner mercenaries would lead a ” march for justice” against the Russian army.
- Russia’s FSB security service responded by opening a criminal case against Prigozhin, announcing that the 62-year-old had called for an armed uprising against the state.
- The deputy commander of Russia’s Ukraine campaign, General Sergey Surovikin, called on Wagner’s forces to give up their opposition to the military leadership and return to their bases.
- Prigozhin says his men have crossed the border from Ukraine to Russia and are ready to “do whatever it takes” against the Russian army.
- Wagner fighters have entered the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Prigozhin said in an audio recording posted on Telegram.
- The governor of the southern Russian region of Rostov, which borders Ukraine, asked residents to stay calm and stay indoors as it became clear that Wagner forces had taken control of the city.
- Prigozhin said his fighters captured the army headquarters in Rostov-on-Don “without firing a single shot” and claimed the support of the local population.
- The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement calling on the Wagner fighters to abandon Prigozhin, saying they had been “deceived and drawn into a criminal adventure”.
- Putin gave a televised speech promising to smash what he called “armed mutiny“. He accused Prigozhin of “treason” and “stabbing in the back”.
- Russian military helicopters opened fire on a convoy of rebel mercenaries more than halfway to Moscow in a flash attack after capturing Rostov overnight.
- Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service SVR, said that it was clear that Prigozhin’s attempt to destabilize society and spark a fratricidal civil war had failed, TASS news agency news.
- Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Putin, said his forces were ready to help quell the Prigozhin uprising and use harsh measures if necessary.
- Russian soldiers set up a machine gun position on the southwestern edge of Moscow, according to photos published by the Vedomosti newspaper.
- The White House said US President Joe Biden had spoken with the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and that they had affirmed their support for Ukraine.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the armed uprising led by Wagner a clear sign of Putin’s weakness and his invasion of Ukraine.
- The RIA news agency reported that Putin signed a law allowing for 30 days of detention for martial law violators in places where martial law has been imposed.
- TASS news agency quoted lawmaker Pavel Krasheninnikov as saying that Wagner mercenaries were promised amnesty if they lay down their weapons “but they should do it quickly”.
- The Russian Foreign Ministry warned Western countries not to use “the internal situation in Russia to achieve their anti-Russian goals”.
- The office of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he broker a deal with Prigozhin, who agreed to de-escalate the situation.
- Prigozhin and all his fighters leave the Russian military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don.
- Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Wagner’s mutiny plot would not affect the military offensive in Ukraine.
- Prigozhin will now come and live in Belarus and there will be no charges against him. Wagner fighters not participating in the Moscow march will be offered military contracts.