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In a furious response to Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s “invasion” of his own country, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has called the mercenary groups’ actions “treason” and promised that "everyone who took part" ill be punished.
Wagner group forces occupied the city of Rostov-on-Don overnight and are reportedly now taking up positions near Voronezh, roughly 300 miles away from Moscow.
But Putin says the Wagner Group fighters were "lied to and driven to participate in a criminal enterprise".
READ MORE: Wagner 'now a monster' with convicts poised to take down Putin in bloody civil war
Putin said: “I will do everything possible to defend my country….And those who have organised an armed rebellion will be held accountable. Those who have been drawn into this, I call on you to stop your criminal actions.”
Recalling the Russian Revolution, when the new Communist government pulled out of the First World War, he added: "Anything that divides us is a stab in the back like it was in 1917 when the country was lost and victory in the war thrown away. We will not let it be repeated".
Putin warned: "'Any internal mutiny is a fatal threat to Russia.. Our response will be harsh". He added that "the appropriate agencies" had already been mobilised to deal with the situation.
Wagner Group boss 'wants Putin gone' as Russian leader 'nervous' over power grab
The Russian leader promised that “decisive action” would be taken to stabilise the situation in Rostov-on-Don
Putin ended his speech by saying "Those that took this action betrayed Russia and will answer for it".
At present, Russian forces appear to be falling back ahead of the Wagner advance, but Putin's strong words hint that Prigozhin's forces will soon face serious opposition.
The FSB, the Russian state security force, is reportedly raiding the Wagner Groups HQ in St. Petersburg., while unconfirmed reports say that Wagner Group forces have shot down three Russian army attack helicopters.
General Sergei Surovikin, deputy commander of Russia’s Ukraine campaign, has posted his own video on Telegram, telling Wagner fighters to listen to Putin and return to their bases. He said internal conflict would onlyplay into the hands of Russia’s enemies.
“I urge you to stop while it’s not too late," he said. "You need to obey the will and order of the elected president of Russia. Stop the columns, return them to their permanent bases. We must resolve all problems peacefully.”
Meanwhile, Prigozhin is warning Russians not to believe what they are being told on state television.
In the new video posted on Telegram, the mercenary chief said: “When they tell you that PMC Wagner interfered with work and that’s why something on the front collapsed…things on the front collapsed not for this reason.”
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- Breaking News
- Vladimir Putin
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