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Wagner chief 'halts' Moscow march to 'avoid bloodshed'

Wagner chief Prigozhin 'halts' Moscow march to 'avoid bloodshed'
16 min read
24 June, 2023
The New Arab brings you the latest on the standoff between the Russian army and Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who vowed on Saturday to "oust" the Russian military.

This live blog has now ended.  Follow The New Arab on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest news on Wagner's  potential offensive on Moscow.

The leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner has halted a planned offensive on the capital Moscow to "avoid bloodshed", Belarus's president has claimed, after an armed uprising by in Ukraine and Rostov-on-Don threw the country into chaos.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said Saturday he had negotiated with Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin an end to the movement of Wagner forces inside Russia in order to deescalate the situation.

"Yevgeny Prigozhin has accepted the proposal of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on stopping the movement of armed individuals from the Wagner group on Russian territory and further steps on deescalating tensions," Lukashenko's press service said in a statement.

It comes after the group seized a key military base on Saturday, just as Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin's vowed to defeat the revolt and head off the threat of civil war.

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The governor of the Lipetsk region, whose capital is just 420 kilometres (260 miles) south of Moscow, said Wagner's private military force was "moving across" the territory and urged civilians not to leave their homes.

In the capital, the mayor urged Muscovites to stay indoors and declared Monday a day off work.

Meanwhile, Ukraine said on Saturday that unrest in Russia spurred by an armed mutiny of the private Russian Wagner group presented an opportunity for Kyiv, weeks after announcing a counter-offensive against Russian positions.

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Earlier on, President Putin has vowed "decisive actions" early on Saturday as a tense standoff unfolded in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, which Russian authorities previously said was "an armed rebellion" by the outspoken mercenary tycoon Prigozhin.

In a five-minute televised address, Putin called the situation in Rostov-on-Don "a stab in the back of our country and our people".