The Wagner Group halted its march to Moscow Saturday after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal between the group and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to multiple reports.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary group, said he agreed to back off his “March for Justice” to Moscow after Lukashenko brokered a settlement with Putin that included security guarantees for Prigozhin and his personnel, according to the Associated Press. The Wagner Group had approached to within 120 miles of Moscow, Fox News reported. (RELATED: Ukrainian Counter-Offensive Gets Underway In Key Southern Region)
Personnel from the Wagner Group previously had occupied Russian military facilities in Rostov-on-Don, a city about 650 miles from Moscow, the AP reported. Wagner Group forces entered Lipetsk, 225 miles south of Russia, early Saturday, according to another AP report.
“It has been a huge blow to Vladimir Putin’s authority”
Sky’s Security and Defence Editor @haynesdeborah has the latest after Yevgeny Prigozhin agreed to de-escalate the situation in Russia
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Video posted on social media Saturday showed Wagner Group personnel leaving Rostov-on-Don. Multiple analysts said the situation was a blow to Putin.
“Putin immeasurably weakened,” retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey posted on Twitter. “Makes him very desperate. Dangerous.” McCaffrey also predicted that Prigozhin would be killed within the next 90 days.
Russian forces loyal to Putin had erected checkpoints and positioned soldiers and armored vehicles on the southern parts of the Russian capital as the mercenary army grew closer, the AP reported.
The Wagner Group is a private military company that has aided Russian forces in Ukraine, notably during the capture of Bakhmut, and has also operated in the Middle East and Africa, according to the BBC.
Prigozhin started the march to force the firing of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the AP reported.
The Wagner Group’s leader will leave Russia for Belarus while all criminal charges will be dropped, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
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