Russia’s anti-terrorist committee said on Saturday that it was imposing a counter-terrorist regime in Moscow and the surrounding region amid an apparent mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group, the state news agency RIA reported.
Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared to suggest he had sent an armed convoy on a 1,200-km (750-mile) charge towards Moscow on Saturday in an unlikely attempt to topple the military leadership.
Russian local officials said a military convoy was on the main motorway linking the southern part of European Russia, bordering Ukraine, with Moscow, and warned residents to avoid it.
Meanwhile, Prigozhin demanded in a video posted on Saturday that Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russia’s top general Valery Gerasimov come to meet him in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.
Prigozhin said in one video posted on social media by his own press service that he was now at the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District, which is in Rostov-on-Don.
“”When we came here, we confirmed the news once again. Vast (frontline) territories have been lost. There are three-four times more killed soldiers compared to what is being reported in documents to the leadership. And what is reported (to the leadership) is up to ten times more compared to what is being said on TV,” Prigozhin said.
“We have daily losses of up to 1,000 people. This includes those killed, those missing and those injured and those who are refusing – who don’t want to fight: not because they are cowards but because they have no choice, no weapons supplies, no command structure,” he added
Prigozhin, whose Wagner militia spearheaded the capture of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut last month, has for months been openly accusing Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russia’s top general, Valery Gerasimov, of rank incompetence and of denying Wagner ammunition and support in its battles in Ukraine.