Russia wagner group yevgeny prigozhin russia defense ministry investigation
The owner of Wagner, a private military contractor, issued a direct challenge to the Kremlin by calling for an armed rebellion to oust Russia's defense minister.
In response, the security services called for the arrest of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner. The Kremlin took the threat seriously, heightened security measures in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don, and mobilized forces in response.
The outcome of the confrontation remains unclear, but it is expected to hinder Moscow's war effort as Ukrainian forces initiate a counteroffensive. Prigozhin claimed that his forces had crossed into Russia from Ukraine and reached Rostov without resistance.
He accused the Russian military of attacking Wagner's convoys and shooting down a Russian military helicopter, although these claims lacked independent confirmation.
International actors, including the U.S. National Security Council and the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed concerns and stated they were monitoring the situation closely. However, there was no confirmation of Wagner's presence in Rostov-on-Don on Russian social networks.
Wagner has played a significant role in Russia's war in Ukraine, particularly in the capture of the city of Bakhmut. Prigozhin has criticized Russia's military leadership in the past but escalated his challenge with calls for armed rebellion against the defense minister.
In a separate development, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned other countries about a potential Russian plan to attack the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, causing a radiation disaster. Zelenskyy called on other nations to take action and put pressure on Russia to prevent such an incident.
The International Atomic Energy Agency noted the escalating military situation in the region surrounding the nuclear plant and discussed the conditions at the plant with the head of the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom.
The situation at the plant has been a concern since Russian troops invaded Ukraine, and experts have warned about the risks of a radiation release.
Amidst the escalating tensions, clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces continued in various regions. Ukrainian officials reported casualties and accused Russia of mining the plant's cooling system, while Russia launched cruise missiles at a military airfield in western Ukraine, which were intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses.
Ukrainian forces have made incremental gains in Zaporizhzhia province, with the goal of forcing Russian troops out of the occupied regions, including Crimea. If successful, Ukrainian forces may attempt to reach occupied port cities on the Sea of Azov and disrupt Russia's land bridge to Crimea.