An Armed Mutiny Broke Out In Russia, Almost Reached Moscow But Was Abruptly Stopped. Why?

The mutiny has been described as the biggest challenge to Putin’s 23-year rule.

An Armed Mutiny Broke Out In Russia, Almost Reached Moscow But Was Abruptly Stopped. Why?

In a stunning 36 hours, an armed mutiny broke out in Russia, got within 200 kilometers of Moscow and was abruptly stopped.

Here’s how it all went down.

On Friday June 23, the leader of the Wagner private military group, which has been fighting alongside Russia, filmed a video where he questioned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it was based on lies.

Russia Tevgeny Prigozhin Wagner military leader
Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen during a meeting with foreign investors at Konstantin Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 16, 2016. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Yevgeny Prigozhin said that the Russian government had tried to deceive the public by saying that there was “crazy aggression from Ukraine” and that it was trying to attack Russia “with the whole of NATO.”

He also said that Russian forces had launched an airstrike that killed a “huge” number of Wagner forces and vowed to stop the “the evil that Russia’s military leadership brings.”

Russia and Ukraine war bombing

Following Prigozhin’s announcement, Russia ordered his arrest on charges of armed rebellion.

At the same time, the Wagner group withdrew from Ukraine, occupied the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and started heading for Moscow.

Three soldiers from Wagner group stand on the balcony
Members of Wagner group stand on the balcony of the circus building in the city of Rostov-on-Don, on June 24, 2023. (Photo by ROMAN ROMOKHOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The next morning on Saturday June 24, Russian president Vladimir Putin made a nationwide address, where he called the armed rebellion “treason” and “a knife in the back of Russia and its people”, adding that those who betrayed Russia would pay.

By this point, the Wagner group was more than half way to Moscow.

Russia wagner mercenary group

A few hours later in the afternoon, an airplane used by Putin left Moscow for St. Petersburg, according to Flightradar24.

However, a Kremlin spokesperson said Putin had not fled and remained in Moscow.

Suddenly, at 8:30pm on Saturday, Belarus’ president Aleksander Lukashenko announced that he had brokered a deal with Prigozhin to stop the uprising.

Russia's president Putin shakes hands with Belarus' president Aleksander Lukashenko
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Belarus counterpart Alexander Lukashenko (L) during a press conference following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 18, 2022. (Photo by SERGEI GUNEYEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Prigozhin said his forces had come within 200 kilometers of Moscow but was turning back to “prevent bloodshed”.

Wagner forces then started withdrawing from Rostov-on-Don.

Tanks belonging to Wagner group pass along Russian cities
Members of Wagner group prepare to pull out from the headquarters of the Southern Military District to return to their base in Rostov-on-Don late on June 24, 2023. (Photo by ROMAN ROMOKHOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The Kremlin said Prigozhin will move to Belarus as part of the deal, and all charges against him will be dropped.

Leader of Russia's military group, Tevgeny Progozhin, shakes hands from inside a car
Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves the headquarters of the Southern Military District amid the group’s pullout from the city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, June 24, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Wagner troops who participated in the rebellion will also receive amnesty, and other Wagner troops will be offered contracts to join the Russian military.

Members of Russia's Wagner group ride on a truck
Members of the Wagner Group prepare to depart from the Southern Military District’s headquarters and return to their base on June 24, 2023 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The mutiny has been widely described as a hit to Putin’s strongman image and the biggest challenge to his 23-year rule.

Russia president Vladimir Putin
Russian president Vladimir Putin (Photo via Getty Images)

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said the rebellion showed the Russian government’s weakness and inability to control the situation.

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