President Vladimir Putin addressed the country as Russia dealt with a mercenary uprising led by the Wagner Group, which has promised to depose Moscow's military leadership.
In an address to the situation over the worsening crisis, he said, "Russia today is waging a hard fight for its future, repelling the aggression of neo-Nazis and their masters. This battle, when the fate of the people is being decided, requires the unification of all forces, unity, consolidation and responsibility. Actions that split unity are, in fact, apostasy from one's own people, from comrades-in-arms who are fighting at the front. It was precisely such a blow that was dealt to Russia in 1917, then it all ended in the tragedy of the Civil War."
He further added, "In the current situation, Russia is faced with betrayal, exorbitant ambitions and personal interests have led to treason. All those who deliberately embarked on the path of betrayal will suffer inevitable punishment, will answer both before the law and before the people. The Armed Forces and other state bodies have received the necessary orders, decisive actions will be taken to stabilise the situation in Rostov-on-Don. The organisers of the rebellion betrayed Russia and will answer for it."
Russian Ministry of Defence appeals to Wagner fighters
In a statement to the media, the Ministry of Defence said, "We appeal to the fighters of the Wagner PMC assault units. You were tricked into Prigozhin's criminal gamble and participation in an armed insurgency. Many of your comrades from several detachments have already realised their mistake, asking for help in ensuring that they can return safely to their permanent bases. We have already provided such assistance to all of these fighters and commanders. Please show discretion and get in touch with representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defence or law enforcement agencies as soon as possible. We guarantee everyone's safety."
Russia fears mutiny, accuses Wagner Group of armed rebellion
In an astonishing escalation of infighting, Russia accused Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin of calling for an armed mutiny, reported ABC News.
Prigozhin said on Saturday that his men had crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia and were ready to go "all the way" against the Russian military. As a long-running standoff between Prigozhin and the military top brass appeared to come to a head, Russia's FSB security service opened a criminal case against him, TASS news agency said. It called on the Wagner private military company forces to ignore his orders and arrest him.
A long-running standoff between the two parties
The move came not long after the Kremlin accused Prigozhin of calling for armed mutiny. Prigozhin, whose frequent tirades on social media belie his limited role in the war as head of the Wagner private militia, has for months been openly accusing Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russia's top general, Valery Gerasimov, of rank incompetence and of denying his forces ammunition and support, reported CBC News.