These are the major developments as the war enters its 487th day.
This is the situation as on Sunday, June 25, 2023.
- Russia was plunged into crisis after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the 62-year-old head of the mercenary Wagner group, launched an armed rebellion. Prigozhin has become increasingly critical of Russia’s defense chiefs in recent months, posting angry tirades on his Telegram channel.
- Prigozhin said he had taken control of the headquarters of Russia’s southern military district in Rostov-on-Don, near the border with Ukraine. His troops began moving north along the 1,100-kilometer (680-mi) highway toward the Russian capital, Moscow.
- As Wagner’s troops advanced, an “anti-terrorist state of emergency” was declared in the southwestern regions of Moscow and Voronezh. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said “anti-terrorist” measures had been stepped up in the Russian capital and some armored personnel carriers were seen on the streets.
- In an emergency televised address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the uprising as “treason”. He vowed to take “decisive action” against those who took up arms against the Russian military. Prigozhin, sometimes known as “Putin’s chef”, met the Russian leader in St. Petersburg in the 1990s when Putin was deputy mayor and Prigozhin owned a restaurant business.
- Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said his forces were ready to help put down the rebellion and called Prigozhin’s behavior a “stab in the back”.
- As the crisis unfolded, Putin spoke by phone with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Kazakhstan President Kassym Zomart-Tokayev, Russian state news agency TASS reported.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had also spoken with Putin and that Turkey was ready to help find a “peaceful solution” to the rebellion.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wagner’s move showed Russia’s weakness and that the longer Moscow continues to fight in Ukraine, the more chaos it will invite to return to the country. “Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale vulnerability,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter.
- US President Joe Biden discussed the situation in Russia with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the White House said. They reiterated their “unwavering support to Ukraine”.
- Russian military helicopters fired on a convoy of a troop carrier Wagner and at least one tank on a low truck advancing past the city of Voronezh.
- Governor Igor Artamonov said Wagner tenants were “locating” in the Lipetsk region, about 400 km (250 miles) south of Moscow, and urged residents to stay indoors.
- Russian media reported that Wagner’s troops shot down several helicopters and a military communications plane during the short-lived uprising. The Kremlin did not respond to questions about the damage, referring questions to the Defense Ministry.
- Late Saturday, after an intervention by Belarusian President Lukashenko, Prigozhin ordered his fighters to turn around and return to their base. He said mercenaries had advanced to within 200 kilometers (125 miles) of Moscow. Wagner’s troops were also seen leaving Rostov.
- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that under the Lukashenko deal, Prigozhin would move to Belarus and that neither the Wagner chief nor his forces would face trial for rebellion. Wagner soldiers who did not join the rebellion will receive Defense Ministry contracts, he added. Peskov said the agreement reflected Putin’s desire to “avoid bloodshed and internal conflicts with unpredictable consequences”.
War in Ukraine
- Russia has launched missile strikes on Ukrainian targets. Kyiv military administration chief Serhiy Popko said air defenses in the capital “detected and destroyed more than 20 missiles”, but debris caused a 24-story building to catch fire and seven people were injured and about 40 vehicles damaged. . Dnipro Mayor Boris Filatov said “several houses were completely destroyed”, while a gas pipeline was destroyed in the city of Kharkiv, causing a fire but no casualties, according to regional governor Oleh Sinegubov. The Ukrainian Air Force also reported Russian missile strikes towards Sumy and northern Poltava regions.
- Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said its armed forces advanced near Bakhmut, one of the focal points of fighting on the eastern front, and further south. “In all these areas, we have made progress,” Maliar wrote in a telegram.
- Valery Zaluzhny, the military commander-in-chief in Kiev, told US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley that Ukraine’s counteroffensive against the Russian military offensive was “going according to plan”.
- The Kremlin’s Peskov said Wagner’s rebellion would not affect Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.
- Denmark hosted a meeting hosted by Ukraine, which brought together several countries to discuss a path towards a “just and lasting peace”, including countries that remained neutral on the Russian offensive, a Western official told news agency AFP on condition of anonymity.
- Ukraine’s Zelensky reiterated the need for Ukraine to have “all weapons necessary for defense,” including F-16 fighter jets and the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).