Jun 24, 2023

By Angus Gillespie

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The head of the Wagner private military contractor has made his most direct challenge to the Kremlin yet, calling for an armed rebellion aimed at ousting Russia’s defence minister.

The security services reacted immediately by calling for the arrest of Yevgeny Prigozhin.

In a sign of how seriously the Kremlin is taking the threat, security was heightened in Moscow and in Rostov-on-Don, which is home to the Russian military headquarters for the southern region and also oversees the fighting in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin made a public address, noting that any acts of treason would be dealt with severely.

The dust-up could further hinder Moscow’s war effort as Kyiv’s forces were probing Russian defences in the initial stages of a counteroffensive.

Prigozhin claimed early Saturday that his forces had crossed into Russia from Ukraine and had reached Rostov.

The Wagner forces have played a crucial role in Russia’s war in Ukraine, succeeding in taking the city where the bloodiest and longest battles have taken place, Bakhmut.

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