Russia rebellion: Wagner boss Prigozhin orders troops to stop Moscow advance and turn back

Wagner mercenaries stand down and stop advance on Moscow after Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko brokers agreement

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary group Wagner
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary group Wagner

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, has ordered his troops to stop advancing on Russia’s capital Moscow and turn back.

The surprise order came on Saturday evening, following an agreement that appears to have been brokered by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

In a message on his Telegram channel, Prigozhin said he has agreed to “stop” the movement of his troops who were advancing on the Russian capital. Prigozhin said he did not want bloodshed.

The agreement came after Lukashenko held talks with Prigozhin, according to Russian TV channel Rossiya 24.

The news outlet also reported that the conversation had been agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The details of the agreement are unknown.

The retreat caps a day of tension after Prigozhin called for a rebellion against the Russian army. Wagner troops crossed into Russia from Ukraine, where they were engaged in the war on behalf of Russia. The troops seized the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don in the south and occupied military facilities in Voronezh as they pushed towards Moscow.

Prigozhin denied attempting a coup, blaming the Russian ministry of defence for its failures in the Ukraine war. For months, Prigozhin’s men had been fighting in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which they eventually captured. Throughout, Prigozhin had been complaining publicly that the Russian defence ministry was not supplying enough weapons to his troops and of taking bad decisions.

In Moscow, the mayor of the capital city told residents to avoid travelling and all mass outdoor events were cancelled until 1 July. Security was also tightened with the main roads leading into the capital being manned by police and soldiers.

Earlier on Saturday, Putin decried Prigozhin's call for a rebellion as a "betrayal" and "treason" in a TV speech, promising to punish rebels.