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Is the Coup Against Putin Over?

Russia T-14 Armata. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian Armata T-14 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

An apparent coup d’etat by the Wagner Group private military company has ended after negotiations between its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. 

The criminal investigation against Prigozhin has been dropped, according to the Kremlin. 

The Russian private military company’s mutiny began yesterday afternoon after the Russian military attacked a mercenary training camp and quickly flared up.

After capturing Rostov-on-Don and the headquarters of the Russian military’s southern district, a convoy of Wagner Group mercenaries moved straight to Moscow, halting about 150 miles south of the Russian capital. 

How the Coup Unfolded 

On Saturday morning, Wagner Group fighters moving from Voronezh crossed Lipetsk and continued to head toward Moscow. Footage from social media showed that the mercenaries heading toward the Russian capital packed some heavy firepower, including T-90 main battle tanks, BMP-2 and BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles.

Wagner Group mercenaries are using silver and red markings to distinguish themselves from the Russian military and security forces. 

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin acknowledged on the social media platform Telegram that “the situation is difficult” and asked nonessential workers and residents of the Russian capital to stay at home on Monday. 

“I ask you to refrain from traveling around the city as much as possible,” Sobyanin said, indicating that some roads may be blocked but not providing information on a potential curfew. 

Meanwhile, on the road toward the outskirts of Moscow, the Russian military and security services were getting ready to stop the Wagner Group convoy. The Russian forces were digging up roads and displacing bridges that lead toward the Russian capital. The Russian Aerospace Forces reportedly flew troops in from across Russia into the capital. 

In a recorded address to the Russian people, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the Russian military and security services to stop the unfolding coup d’etat, stating that Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin “will answer not only before the law but before the people [as well].”

Fighting Along the Road 

The Russian military deployed several fighter jets and attack helicopters in the Voronezh Oblast.

But the Wagner Group fighters fought back, shooting down several aircraft. Russian military bloggers indicate the Wagner Group fighters have shot down four Russian military helicopters (two Mi-8 transport choppers, one Mi-35 attack chopper, and one Ka-52 Alligator attack chopper) and one II-20 communications aircraft. 

Although there is mixed verification on those claims, there is footage from Rostov showing a Wagner Group Strela-10 anti-aircraft system firing at and narrowly missing a Russian military Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter in the vicinity of Rostov-on-Don. 

“We did not kill a single person on the road. We captured the headquarters building in Rostov without firing a single shot. We did not interfere with the work of a single person. There are people standing on the street with [Wanger Group] flags,” Prigozhin said. 

Meanwhile, Chechen fighters loyal to warlord Ramzan Kadyrov were seen moving to Moscow and Rostov from the Donbas. Armed with armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, these Chechen fighters were the only troops loyal to Putin standing between a Wagner Group occupation of Rostov-on-Don and Moscow. 

A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

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1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.