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Possible Civil War looms in Russia following Wagner mutiny; Putin vows “Decisive action”

President Putin's response to the armed mutiny threatens to escalate tensions and jeopardize his position amid ongoing Ukraine conflicts.

Moscow, Russia, June 24:  Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private Wagner militia has taken control of Rostov-on-Don, a major city near the Ukrainian border, sparking concerns of a potential civil war in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation in an emergency televised speech on Saturday, denouncing the mutiny as “treason” and promising resolute measures to restore stability.

Prigozhin, known for leading his private army in fierce battles during the Ukrainian conflict, claimed to have captured the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District in Rostov. His forces, turned back from Ukraine, rapidly advanced northwards through western Russia, raising alarms within the government.

President Putin, drawing a comparison to the Civil War that plagued Russia a century ago, affirmed his commitment to crush the mutiny and protect the nation. He labeled the actions of the Wagner Group mercenaries as treasonous, vowing severe consequences for anyone who took up arms against the Russian military.

In response, Prigozhin defiantly declared himself and his men as true patriots who would not surrender. He expressed dissatisfaction with the prevailing corruption and deception in the country, stating, “We don’t want the country to continue to live in corruption and deceit.”

In response Russian military helicopters opened fire on a rebel convoy, already halfway towards Moscow after a lightning-fast advance from the south.

Russian Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov pledged his forces’ support to Putin in dealing with the Wagner mutiny, even if it required employing harsh measures. Official response has not been come yet.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former convict and a longtime ally of Putin, commands a formidable private army comprising thousands of former prisoners recruited from Russian jails. His forces endured the most intense combat during the 16-month Ukraine war, including the fierce battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Prigozhin’s long-standing discontent with the Russian army’s leadership has been well-known, accusing generals of incompetence and withholding crucial resources from his fighters. This month, he defied orders to bring his troops under the command of the Defense Ministry, leading to the current mutiny after alleging the military’s responsibility for the deaths of many of his men in an airstrike.

The international community, particularly Western nations, closely monitors the situation in Russia. The NATO chief commented that they are “monitoring the situation,” while UK Prime Minister Sunak urged both sides to prioritize the protection of civilians.

The timing of this Wagner mutiny is critical as it places President Putin in a precarious position, simultaneously facing internal and external challenges. Russia is currently engaged in a fierce conflict with Ukraine, which launched a counter-offensive last week, adding further strain to Putin’s administration.

As tensions escalate and the possibility of a civil war looms, the stability of Russia and the fate of President Putin’s leadership hang in the balance.

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