In a stunning U-turn, Wagner Private Military Company chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has announced that the mercenary group is turning around and heading back to base, after covering over 700 kilometers from Rostov-on-Don to the Lipetsk region.
“Now is the moment for potential bloodshed, so, realizing all the responsibility for the fact that Russian blood will be spilled from one of the sides, we are turning our columns around. And we are leaving in the opposite direction to the field camps according to plan,” Prigozhin said.
Earlier, Alexander Lukashenko's press service had reported that he had been negotiating with Prigozhin all day, and the latter had agreed to stop his “march of justice” on Moscow:
“This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin briefed his Belarusian counterpart on the situation in southern Russia with the private military company Wagner. The heads of state agreed to take joint action.
As a follow-up to the agreements, the President of Belarus, having further clarified the situation through his own available channels, held talks with the head of the Wagner PMC Evgeny Prigozhin in agreement with the President of Russia. The talks lasted for the whole day.
As a result, they came to an agreement on the inadmissibility of unleashing a bloodbath on the territory of Russia. Yevgeny Prigozhin accepted the offer of President Alexander Lukashenko to stop the movement of armed Wagner men in Russia and to take further steps to de-escalate tension.
At the moment, an absolutely advantageous and acceptable option of resolving the situation is on the table, with security guarantees for the Wagner PMC fighters.”