Russia has ordered the arrest of the head of the powerful mercenary group Wagner, accusing him of mounting an armed uprising.
This has brought the long-running standoff between Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian mercenary boss, and the military top brass over the war in Ukraine, out into the open.
Reuters reported that after the Kremlin accused the Wagner group of armed mutiny, Wagner fighters crossed the border into Russia from Ukraine and were prepared to go "all the way" against Moscow's military.
The Wagner Group, a private army of mercenaries, has been fighting alongside the regular Russian army in Ukraine.
In recent months, Prigozhin, a one-time Putin ally, has carried out an increasingly bitter feud with Moscow, reports India Today.
Russian state media reported that the Wagner forces in a surprise move have taken control of the Southern Military District building in Rostov, prompting security to be tightened across Moscow.
Moscow has increased security measures in government buildings, transport facilities, and other key locations and the security forces have been kept on high alert.
The Wagnerites have reportedly taken control of several buildings, including the head office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB department, the administration of Rostov, and one police department.
The chief of the Wagner group announced that his forces had entered the southern border region, prompting Russian authorities in Rostov to urge residents to stay home.
The governor of the Rostov region advised citizens to avoid traveling to the city center and to stay at home, due to the current situation.
The Wagner mercenary group has declared their intention to overthrow the country's military leadership, following accusations of "armed rebellion" by the Kremlin.
The group's leader has stated that they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal, even if it means destroying everything in their path.
Russian state news agency TASS reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was receiving updates on the situation around the clock, while Reuters reported that the White House was monitoring the situation and would consult with its allies.
General Sergei Surovikin, the deputy commander of Russia's Ukraine campaign, instructed Wagner fighters to obey Putin, accept Moscow's commanders, and return to their bases. He warned that political instability would benefit Russia's enemies.
Meanwhile, the Russian FSB security service has initiated a criminal case against Yevgeny Prigozhin and has urged the Wagner private military company forces to disregard his orders and detain him.
The Federal Security Service (FSB) press office said that the criminal was initiated due to the seriousness of the situation and the threat of escalation in Russia; it also called on PMC fighters not to comply with Prigozhin’s orders and to detain him, reports TASS.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an anti-Putin figure, has called on Russians to support Yevgeny Prigozhin, emphasizing the importance of backing "even the devil" if he chooses to challenge the Kremlin.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.