Yevgeny Prigozhin said his forces have crossed into Russia as he called for the defence minister to be ousted as he sought revenge for military leaders who he accused of killing 2,000 troops.
Russian president Vladimir Putin said he had been informed of the claims and warned “necessary measures are being taken.”
The FSB said it had begun a criminal investigation into the Wagner mercenaries and demanded Prigozhin’s arrest.
The crisis appears to be the biggest facing Putin since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Security was stepped up at military buildings and key transport infrastucture in Moscow.
Prigozhin insisted his actions were not a military coup, but also issued a series of frenzied audio messages in which he appeared to claim his milita was en route to oust the defence ministry in the Kremlin as he warned: “Those who killed our lads, and tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers will be punished.
“I ask you not to resist. Anyone who does will be considered a threat and destroyed.”
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