Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, made a bold announcement on Saturday, stating that he was inside the army headquarters in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, and that his fighters were in control of the city's military sites. Prigozhin had previously declared that his forces had crossed into Russia from the Ukrainian front, expressing his determination to topple the country's military leadership, claiming that he and his fighters were prepared to sacrifice their lives.
What Did Prigozhin Say In The Video?
Rostov-on-Don houses Russia's significant military headquarters, serving as a crucial logistical base for its offensive in Ukraine. In a video posted on Telegram, Prigozhin stated, "We are inside the (army) headquarters, it is 7:30 am (0430 GMT)."
He further asserted that the military sites in Rostov, including an aerodrome, were under their control. Prigozhin emphasized that the planes involved in the Ukraine war were departing from the airfield without disruption. His intention was to ensure that the attack aircraft targeted the Ukrainians rather than his own forces.
Discrediting State Media and Revelations
Prigozhin urged the Russian public not to believe the narratives presented by state television. He dismissed the claims that his private military company (PMC) Wagner had interfered with operations, asserting that the failures on the frontlines were not due to their actions.
Addressing the Russian people, he revealed the extent of the losses, stating that a significant amount of territory had been relinquished, and the number of casualties was much higher than what was officially reported.
Allegations Against Russian Military Leadership
In a surprising revelation, Prigozhin alleged that Russia's Chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, had fled the area upon learning of their approach to the building. This claim highlights the internal discord within the Russian military leadership.
Criminal Case Filed Against Prigozhin
The Russian authorities responded swiftly, opening a criminal case against Prigozhin, accusing him of attempting to incite an "armed rebellion." Meanwhile, local authorities in Rostov urged residents to remain at home, presumably to avoid any potential disruptions or clashes in the city.