Wagner Chief Orders Mercenaries To Stop March On Moscow
In a stunning turn of events, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group said Saturday he had ordered his mercenaries to halt their march on Moscow and retreat to their field camps in Ukraine to de-escalate tensions.
The announcement from Putin’s former ally appeared to defuse a growing domestic crisis over the past 24 hours. According to the Associated Press, Moscow had braced for the arrival of the private army led by the rebellious commander. And President Vladimir Putin had vowed he would face harsh consequences.
Prigozhin said that while his men are just 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Moscow, he decided to turn them back to avoid “shedding Russian blood.”
He didn’t say whether the Kremlin has responded to his demand to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin.
The announcement follows a statement from the office of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko saying that he had negotiated a deal with Prigozhin after previously discussing the issue with Putin.
Prigozhin appears to have accepted Lukashenko’s offer to halt the Wagner group’s advance, said Lukashenko’s office, adding that the proposed settlement contains security guarantees for Wagner troops.