LIVEBLOG: Wagner says Putin 'made the wrong choice' and Russia will 'have a new president' soon

This video grab taken from a handout footage posted on the Telegram account of the press service of Concord -- a company linked to the chief of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
AFP PHOTO / TELEGRAM CHANNEL OF CONCORD GROUPThis video grab taken from a handout footage posted on the Telegram account of the press service of Concord -- a company linked to the chief of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Russian Ministry of Defense building in Rostov has apparently fallen to a mix of conventional and mercenary troops rebelling against the top military leadership

Yevgeny Prigozhin led his Wagner mercenary group into Russia, vowing to stop the "evil military leadership." Rostov-on-don was the first city to fall, without resistance, and Voronezh was reportedly being heavily fortified as a halfway point to Moscow.

“I warn everyone again: we will perceive it as a threat and destroy everything around. They cannot destroy us, we have goals, we are all ready to die. All 25 thousand, and after that - another 25 thousand. Because we are dying for our country," Prigozhin recorded on his telegram channel early Saturday morning.

"We are dying for the Russian people, who must be freed from those people who are beating the civilian population, which they just hit in Rostov from helicopters. One pilot, belonging to the FSB, refused to take off and strike," Prigozhin added, referring to a Russian military helicopter that attacked his positions in Rostov.

On Friday night, the Wagner chief accused Moscow's Defense Ministry of ordering strikes on their camps and killing a "huge" number of forces. Prigozhin vowed to "stop" the top military leadership and called on Russians not to resist his forces. 

"The council of commanders of PMC Wagner has made a decision -- the evil that the military leadership of the country brings must be stopped," Prigozhin said, "we were ready to make concessions to the defense ministry, surrender your weapons."

Prigozhin had previously refused to comply with a new requirement that military contractors sign contracts with the Russian defense ministry before July 1, which would have made Wagner illegal in a week. In his statement, he said he was ready to find a compromise but “[the ministry] have treacherously cheated us.”

“Pip [meaning Putin] made the wrong choice. Too bad for him. Soon we will have a new president," Wagner stated on their telegram.

UK intel says Wagner is almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow 

In the UK Ministry of Defense's tweeted update, it confirmed that the Wagner Group and Russian military establishment were in an "outright military confrontation." It gave partial confirmation, that the mercenary group "almost certainly" took positions in Rostov-on-Don.

Again, the intelligence update partially confirmed that Prigozhin was "almost certainly" aiming for Moscow, and moving through Vorenzh. It also stated that there was "very limited" fighting between the mercenaries and Russian security forces.

The update given by the UK concluded that this is the "most significant challenge to the Russia state in recent times."

Russian law enforcement raids Wagner HQ in St. Petersburg

"Law enforcers have entered PMC Wagner Centre on St Petersburg's Zolnaya street," local news outlet Fontanka has reported

"All key facilities in Voronezh have also been taken under control (of Wagner), just like in Rostov," a source close to the central office of the Russian security service (FSB) confirmed to the BBC. According to the source, the FSB do not yet have a specific plan to suppress the rebellion.

Handout / RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE / AFPFootage released by the Russian presidential press office shows President Vladimir Putin making a statement in Moscow, as Russia faced a rebellion by the Wagner mercenary group that has vowed to topple the Kremlin's military leadership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to his nation

"I appeal to the Russians, the military and law enforcement agencies and to those who were pushed onto the path of armed rebellion by deceit and threats," Putin said in his televised speech.

"Russia is waging a hard fight for its future, the entire military and information machine of the West is directed against Russia," the president stated, "any strife must be discarded during the special operation, the fate of our people is now being decided."

"What we are faced with is internal betrayal, betrayal of our country and people. Any unrest is a mortal threat, our actions will be tough," the Russian leader warned.

Putin concluded that "the Russian Armed Forces received the necessary order to neutralize those who organized the armed rebellion.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed many Wagner members "had already realized their mistake" and sought assistance to "return safely" into the fold, according to a state-run media announcement. However, no evidence was provided for this claim.

“You were deceived into Prigozhin’s criminal adventure and participation in an armed rebellion. Many of your comrades from several squads have already realized their mistake in asking for help in ensuring that they can safely return to their places of permanent deployment," Russia's Defense Ministry released a statement aimed at the mercenary Russian fighters. "Such assistance from our side has already been provided to all the fighters and commanders who applied," the ministry claimed.

"We ask you to be prudent and get in touch with representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defense or law enforcement agencies as soon as possible. We guarantee everyone's safety," the message concluded.

Russia’s national antiterrorist committee releases a statement

In order to prevent possible terrorist attacks on the territory of Moscow and the Moscow region, a counter-terrorist operation regime has been introduced by the committee.

Military facilities in Voronezh have been taken under the control of Wagner PMC, according to a statement by the mercenary group, according to them, signaling that the army is going with the rebellion and "the people."

Putin will address the Russians at 9 am [Israel time] - media

️'Half of the Russian army is ready to go with us'

Prigozhin released a new statement, where he said that 60-70 people had joined him, and “half an army” were potentially ready to join.

Moscow appeared to be preparing for esclations, with S-400 missile air defense systems on the move. In addition, there was a declaration of "anti-terrorist operations" underway to "increase security measures," by the capital's mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Mayor of the Ukrainian city of Dnipro Borys Filatov had earlier confirmed an attack on the city, saying "several houses were completely destroyed. Huge crater after the explosion." In addition, Kyiv's military administration head Sergiy Popko said it had "detected and destroyed more than 20 missiles in the airspace around Kyiv."

Prigozhin published a video via his press service, in which he stated that all military facilities in Rostov-on-Don are under the control of Wagner PMC.

“We have control of Rostov’s aerodrome to ensure they are striking Ukraine not us. We are not interfering with military ops in Ukraine," Prigozhin opened.

“The main command post is operating normally, there are no problems, not a single officer is isolated. Therefore, when they tell you that the Wagner PMC interfered with the work and therefore something fell down at the front, that’s not why it fell down at the front," the Wagner chief said.

"When we came here, we confirmed a lot of new things. A huge amount of territory has been lost, the number of soldiers killed is three to four times more than it is in the documents that go upstairs. And what is served is 10 times less than what is said on TV," Prigozhin claimed.

"Sanitary losses per day amount on some days to a thousand people - these are killed, missing, wounded and the so-called "refuseniks" who refuse not because they are scared, but because they have no way out. No ammunition, no controls. The Chief of the General Staff fled from here as soon as he found out that we were approaching the building," he concluded.

"We block Rostov and go to Moscow," Prigozhin told the Deputy Minister of Defense and the Deputy Head of the General Staff in Rostov-on-Don. In the video, he can be seen talking with the top Russian officials.

The videos prove that Prigozhin is in Rostov. It also shows that the situation is serious enough for the official military establishment to sit and talk with him, instead of arresting him, despite an open criminal case against the Wagner chief.

Prigozhin clarified that he did not intend to harm President Vladimir Putin.

He stated he will continue to blockade Rostov, and will continue to Moscow if, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu don’t agree to meet with him.

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