Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to defend Russia. He ordered his military to act against the Wagner paramilitary group, which is led by mercenary chiefYevgeny Prigozhin, that seized the southern Russian city of Rostov.
Russian military helicopters opened fire on a convoy of rebel mercenaries that was already more than halfway towards Moscow after it had seized a southern city overnight, reported Reuters.
“All those who deliberately stepped on the path of betrayal, who prepared an armed insurrection, who took the path of blackmail and terrorist methods, will suffer inevitable punishment, will answer both to the law and to our people,” Putin said.
“The president makes a big mistake when he talks about treason. We are patriots of our motherland; we fought and are fighting for it,” Prigozhin said in response via an audio message. “We don’t want the country to continue to live in corruption and deceit.”
Fighters from the Wagner militia were rapidly advancing northwards through western Russia after seizing Rostov-on-Don, a city of more than a million people close to the border with Ukraine.
In Rostov, residents were filming on mobile phones as Wagner fighters in armored vehicles and battle tanks took up positions.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday in a social media message that “Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness, and the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain, and problems it will have for itself later.”
Produced in association with Benzinga
Edited by Asad Ali and Saba Fatima