Sergei Surovikin, Commander-in-Chief of Russia’s Aerospace Forces and Deputy Commander of the Russian grouping in Ukraine, has appealed to the Wagner Group’s mercenaries in a video message, urging them not to aggravate the country's internal political situation. Surovikin’s appeal was published on Telegram by VGTRK reporter Andrei Rudenko.
Surovikin said he arrived urgently from the front lines by order of the Defense Ministry.
“We’ve gone through a difficult and arduous path together. We’ve fought together, we’ve taken risks, we’ve suffered losses, we’ve won together. We are of the same blood. We are warriors. I urge you to stop; the enemy is just waiting for our internal political situation to escalate. You cannot play into the hands of the enemy at this difficult time for the country. While it's not too late and it's necessary to do so – submit to the will and order of the popularly elected president of the Russian Federation. Stop the [armed] columns, to return them to their places of deployment. All problems have to be solved peacefully, under the leadership of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”
Lieutenant General Vladimir Alekseev, first deputy head of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, also addressed the Wagner PMC’s mercenaries.
“I cannot explain what is happening now by anything else except for insanity... Things like this will lead to huge losses...This is a coup d'état. Come to your senses!”
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) also urged the mercenaries “not to make irreparable mistakes, to stop any forceful actions against the Russian people, not to carry out the criminal and traitorous orders of [Yevgeny] Prigozhin, and take measures to detain him,” reported state-run news outlet RIA Novosti.
Earlier reports confirmed that the FSB had opened a criminal case against E. V. Prigozhin (Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin, head of the Wagner PMC) for the “organization of an armed rebellion.” The announcement was published in the official Telegram channel of the General Prosecutor's Office.
The penalty for the offense ranges from 12 to 20 years of imprisonment.
On the evening of June 23, Prigozhin claimed that the Russian Defense Ministry launched missile strikes on the Wagner PMC’s rear camps. Prigozhin claimed that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu deliberately arrived in Rostov to execute an operation to destroy the Wagner PMC. According to Prigozhin, Shoigu “covertly deployed artillery personnel and helicopter pilots to exterminate us.”
Prigozhin promised to respond to the strike and “to deal with those who destroy Russian soldiers.” Russia's Defense Ministry has denied carrying out strikes on Wagner positions, claiming that messages disseminated by Prigozhin do not correspond to reality.
The FSB and other security forces have been put on high alert in Moscow, according to a report by the BBC Russian Service citing a source close to the special services. According to the source, the FSB and Russia’s National Guard Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) have set up roadblocks on the Don highway (a highway connecting Moscow, Voronezh, and Rostov-on-Don). Officers on duty have been ordered to open fire “in case of a threat.”