On 23 June, Wagner PMC head Yevgeny Prigozhin effectively declared open rebellion against the Kremlin after releasing a video saying Russia's military leadership had deceived society and rejected Mosow's justification of the war. This follows reports that a Russian missile strike had targeted a Wagner camp, killing dozens of soldiers earlier in the week and an attempt on Prigozhin's life. Russia's domestic security service, the FSB, opened an investigation into Prigozhin and called on Wagner mercenaries to ignore his orders and help apprehend him. President Putin issued a statement this morning calling the actions mutiny. There are unconfirmed reports that Putin tried to flee Russia in his presidential plane but was turned away from Kazakh airspace.
The Kremlin activated Operation "Fortress" to harden defenses around Moscow, deploying the Rosgvardia (National Guard) military vehicles across the city at key locations. Multiple public spaces are closed for the weekend, including Red Square.
- Wagner columns crossed into Russia from Ukraine with no resistance and took control of Rostov-on-Don, the location of Russia's Southern Military Command, with no resistance from Russian police or military in the city. Wagner now controls a major military outpost and the equipment and munitions in surrounding areas.
- A large column of military vehicles of the Wagner Group is reportedly enroute toward Moscow through Voronezh Oblast. There are unconfirmed reports that Russian soldiers surrendered en-masse in Voronezh.
- The Russian military reportedly conducted airstrikes against a convoy of Wagner Group traveling along the M4 highway towards Moscow. Civilian vehicles may have been destroyed.
- Wagner convoys are reportedly already in Lipetsk Oblast, just 3-5 hours from Moscow.
- Unconfirmed reports indicate that Putin may have fled Moscow to St. Petersburg and many elites have fled to nearby countries such as Turkey.
- Chechen leader Kadyrov pledged to deploy his forces to the region to fight Wagner troops.
- The situation is developing rapidly and remains extremely fluid.
- The overall information environment is extremely hazy and all actors in the play are masterful at leveraging disinformation. The narrative on social media may not reflect reality.
- Russian history is replete with populist revolts in times when leadership is perceived to be weak, especially in times of war. If Putin did, indeed, flee to St. Petersburg, this would indicate the severity of the threat to his life and rule.
- Prigozhin's messaging campaign is conducive to promoting mass desertion among the rank and file within the Russian military.
- Wagner will seek to capture as many ammunition depots and free as many prisoners as it can in the coming 24 hours.
- The Russian state will make every attempt to kill or capture Prigozhin to quickly stop the rebellion. The longer he remains alive, the more of a threat he poses to the Kremlin.
- There is a possibility that Russia will close its airspace and impose tight restrictions on movement in the coming hours.
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