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Wagner units are alleged to have gained access to a nuclear weapons storage site in Russia during their recent mutiny. The incident has prompted serious concerns about whether any of the weapons fell into the mutineers’ hands.
It also raises questions about the general safety of Russia’s nuclear stockpile from possible future attacks by terrorists and armed groups
To date the Kremlin has remained tight lipped about the movements and whereabouts of Wagner forces during their coup attempt.
However, the Freedom of Russia Legion told the Express that a large group of Wagner fighters were able gain access to the Voronezh 45 site without meeting any resistance.
The Legion’s commander, whose nom de guerre is Caesar, said: “I want people around the world to understand the seriousness of the danger we are facing.
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“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station has been mined and the situation with Prigozhin showed that any powerful criminal group can take control of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
“We have reliable information that during the mutiny one of his units – consisting of 21 armoured vehicles and over 100 soldiers – took under its control the nuclear weapons storage site Voronezh 45.
“This facility is under the command of the 12th Chief Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Defence.
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“They managed to get onto the site without encountering any resistance.
“How it all ended we don’t know for sure, but we think it’s perfectly possible that something did happen.”
Russia’s nuclear storage system is based on 12 central sites, such as Voronezh 45 and about 35 base-level facilities – basically a military base within a military base.
The areas are supposed to be continuously guarded and surrounded by barbed wire fences.
The warheads are stored inside concrete and steel bunkers. Electronic safeguards known as permissive action links are attached to them.
These are code accessed and designed to make the weapons unusable in the event they fall into the wrong hands.
Western experts doubt whether Wagner would have any strategic use for nuclear weapons and therefore think it’s unlikely they stole any.
Olga Oliker, the International Crisis Group’s director for Europe and Central Asia, told Time magazine: “Russian weapons and facilities are under solid control and there’s no evidence that Wagner or anyone else is looking to capture them.
“Not only would they be tremendously difficult to gain use of, there’s no real logic for doing so. What would they do with them?”
Caesar told Express.co.uk that the Legion and its political supporters were the real opposition in Russia and the only realistic hope of bringing Putin’s 23-year reign to an end.
He said he had already understood some twenty years ago that the only way to get rid of Putin was through an armed revolt.
The commander insisted that more and more Russians supported their cause and predicted a war between Putin’s defenders and a “free and armed” people.
“The Ministry of Defence, FSB, Rosgvardia, Kadyrov’s troops or private militias – they will never win a war with ordinary Russians who are armed – never,” he said.
Caesar added: “I am ashamed that we live in one of the richest countries in the world where people don’t have a toilet and have to do their business in a hole in the street
“People have to heat their homes with wood – they don’t have gas or electricity – a lot of people are in that situation in Russia – the richest country in the world!
“Instead Putin spends billion and trillions on weapons and bombs Ukraine. I am ashamed of my country and I will do everything to change it. We will succeed in doing it.”
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