Russian mercenaries seize military sites as Putin vows to punish rebellion.. Video

Russian President Vladimir Putin says an “armed mutiny” by the Wagner Group is treason, adding that “decisive action” will be taken against them.

The authorities in Moscow and the surrounding area say they have declared a “counterterrorism” state of emergency after Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his forces were in control of military sites in Rostov.

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has accused the Russian military of attacking his advancing troops.

In a previous post (below), we reported on a Wagner convoy that was spotted north of Voronezh, a city in which Wagner has reportedly seized military facilities.

« We were fired upon: first artillery strikes, and then from helicopters, » Prigozhin said in a Telegram post, without giving evidence or specifying where the alleged attack happened.

Wagner took city without firing a single shot – Prigozhin

We’ve been reporting that the rebelling Wagner Group mercenaries have claimed they now control Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia.

In a new audio message posted on Wagner’s Telegram page, Yevgeny Prigozhin claims his troops took the city « without a single shot being fired [by us] ».

He also claims residents of Rostov-on-Don were supporting his troops because of their continuing « justice march ».

Russia’s state-run media has broadcast footage apparently showing Rostov residents arguing with Wagner troops and urging them to obey orders by President Vladimir Putin.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Our BBC Verify team has verified a video showing a Wagner convoy of armed vehicles travelling on the M4 motorway, which links Voronezh and Moscow through the region of Lipetsk. The picture above is taken from the video.

As we’ve mentioned, the governor of the Lipetsk region has asked residents to stay home and avoid travelling, either with public vehicles or on public transport.

Regional authorities in Lipetsk have said that all bus services in the region are cancelled until further notice.

Voronezh is one of two cities – the other being Rostov-on-Don, further south – in which Wagner mercenaries have reportedly seized key sites.

The situation in the region is fast moving, and we’ll bring you more updates shortly.

We’ll return to the latest developments from the ground in a second, but first, let’s take a step back.

In February, David Aaronovitch and guests discussed the Wagner group in detail in an episode of BBC Radio 4’s The Briefing Room.

The mercenary group has been responsible for much of Russia’s military success in Ukraine.

Earlier this year, the group took control of Soledar, a salt mine town in the east of the country.

But the battle for Soledar also showed the first signs of an emerging rift between Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the Kremlin.

World Opinions + BBC News

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