Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has recorded another audio message as part of his ongoing call for rebellion, claiming that Wagner forces are “ready to destroy everything that stands in [their] way” as they advance on the city of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia. He noted that Russian border guards, whom the PMC met on the way to Rostov, greeted them with “hugs.”
“This is the current situation today – we were attacked by missiles. After that, we were struck by helicopters. After that, artillery. The commands were handed down from the Chief of General Staff [Valery Gerasimov] to destroy the Wagner PMC, after a meeting with Defense Minister Shoigu, at which they made this decision to destroy the unruly units, which are ready to defend their homeland, but their asses are not.
At the moment we have crossed [Russia’s] state borders in all places. Border guards have been coming out to meet us and hugging our fighters. Now we are entering Rostov, a unit of the Ministry of Defense (or rather, the conscripts who were thrown to block our way). [They] stepped aside. We don't fight children, we don't kill children. Shoigu kills children. Shoigu throws untrained soldiers, including conscripts, into the war. He put 18-year-old boys against us.
They are all old enough to be my grandchildren – these guys will live and go back to their mothers. We only fight professionals. But if anyone gets in the way, we will destroy anything that stands in our way. We extend our hand to everyone. No need to spit in that hand. We move on. We go all the way. As for the statements about the arrests... This is brotherhood, this is justice, this is honor, this is conscience. That's what we have. And when you make statements, you don't have those feelings, those feelings are destroyed. So you cannot understand anything but betrayal.”
There is currently no evidence of Wagner PMC units entering Rostov-on-Don.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has initiated a criminal case against Prigozhin for the “organization of an armed rebellion” (Article 279 of Russia’s Criminal Code).
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.”