Wagner group withdraws from Russian positions after ending rebellion
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04:30am:Australia to provide $74 million assistance package to Ukraine
The Australian Government will provide a new A$110 million ($73.54 million) package to Ukraine to defend against Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday.
The package includes 70 military vehicles, including 28 armoured vehicles, 14 special operations vehicles, 28 medium trucks and 14 trailers.
« Australia is unwavering in our resolve to condemn and oppose Russia’s actions and to help Ukraine achieve victory, » Albanese said.
04:20am:Russia suffers legal setback in Australian embassy standoff
Russia’s bid to build a new embassy near Australia’s parliament suffered a legal blow on Monday, when the country’s highest court denied a request for temporary protection against eviction.
Australia has blocked Russia from building a new embassy in the capital Canberra — a stone’s throw from Parliament House — after intelligence agencies warned it could be used as a base to spy on lawmakers.
Russia’s embassy last week launched a last-minute injunction to temporarily hold on to the land, while dispatching a mystery diplomat to squat on the site as the legal tussle played out.
Australia’s high court ruled on Monday morning that Russia had to temporarily vacate the site until the case returns to court for more detailed legal arguments, local media reported.
The Russian embassy said it had « no comments » on the ruling.
03:04am: Reactions in Moscow to Wagner mutiny
01:15am:17,000 Ukrainian army recruits trained by Britain and allies
More than 17,000 Ukrainian recruits have been trained by Britain and other allies over the last year to help Kyiv fight Russia’s invasion, the UK Ministry of Defence said Monday.
The recruits, from many different walks of life, all went through a « gruelling » five-week programme which the ministry said had transformed them « from civilians to soldiers ».
Britain and nine partner nations — Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania and The Netherlands — opened the initiative for new volunteer recruits to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in June last year.
The UK-led training programme dubbed Operation Interflex taught the recruits, who had little to no previous military experience, various skills including weapons handling, battlefield first aid and patrol tactics.
« The determination and resilience of the Ukrainian recruits that arrive on British soil, from all walks of life, to train to fight alongside our British and international forces, is humbling to witness, » UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
11:52pm:Zelensky discusses Russian turmoil with Biden, Trudeau and Duda
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he discussed the weekend’s turmoil in Russia in phone calls with the leaders of the United States, Canada and Poland on Sunday, and that the « weakness » of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin had been « exposed ».
The phone calls took place after anextraordinary failed mutinyby Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin on Saturday that raised questions about Putin’s grip on power asUkrainepresses a counteroffensive in its south and east.
« We discussed the course of hostilities and the processes taking place in Russia. The world must put pressure on Russia until international order is restored, » Zelensky said after a phone call with US President Joe Biden.
He said he and Biden had also discussed further expanding defence cooperation with an emphasis on long-range weapons, coordination ahead of the NATO summit inVilniusnext month and preparations for a « Global Peace Summit » he has promoted.
« Yesterday’s events exposed the weakness of Putin’s regime, » the statement said.
In another similar statement, Zelensky said he had told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a phone call about the « threatening situation » atUkraine’s vast, Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Zelenskywarned earlier this weekthat Russia was considering carrying out an act of « terrorism » involving the release of radiation at the plant, an allegation denied by Russia.
10:34pm: Ukrainian soldiers say Wagner rebellion has not noticeably changed combat situation around Bakhmut
Ukrainian soldiers returning from the front line on Sunday said the revolt by Russian mercenary group Wagner had not noticeably affected fighting around the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
AFP saw a stream of injured solders coming back from the battlefield, with a surgeon treating soldiers wounded in fighting near Bakhmut saying there had been more patients in recent days.
« Most people, most military, understand very well that the circus from Russia is still here. They didn’t go out. They stay in the same positions, » said Nazar, a 26-year-old bearded soldier, parked at a service station on a road leading out of the area.
« We are returning now from the Bakhmut direction, we can say that fighting is going on in both the area of Klishchiivka and Bakhmut, » Nazar said.
« As it attacked yesterday, Russia continued to attack today, » he said.
Another soldier, who did not give his name but said he had been fighting in the area for six months, said Wagner troops in the area had kept fighting.
« Some small groups (of Russians) left positions, » said Oleksandr, another soldier returning from combat in the Bakhmut zone.
But he said that for Ukraine, the fighting is going « according to plan ».
The town of Bakhmut was almost entirely captured by Russia this summer, in a success largely credited to Wagner forces.
9:52pm: Russian ministry recommends a day off for journalists in wake of Wagner rebellion
The Russian ministry of digital development on Sunday recommended that journalists and IT workers take a day to rest in the wake of the Wagner Group of mercenaries’ aborted advance on Moscow on Saturday.
« Saturday was a very emotional and tense day, » the ministry of digital development, communications and mass media said in a statement on social media.
« We recommend giving employees of IT and telecom companies and media a day off. »
The ministry singled out employees of companies working round-the-clock and media workers, who operated in regions « at the epicentre of the events », saying they needed an opportunity to rest.
« Many employees of the digital development ministry spent the weekend at their workplace, » the statement said, « so we also made this decision for our employees. »
9:46pm: Zelensky says he and Biden discussed recent events in Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he discussed the weekend’s turmoil in Russia in a phone call with US President Joe Biden on Sunday and that the events had exposed the weakness of President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
In a statement, Zelensky called for global pressure to be exerted on Russia and said that he and Biden had also discussed further expanding defence cooperation with an emphasis on long-range weapons.
7:47pm: Macron says Wagner Groups rebellion shows divisions within Russia
The Wagner Groups rebellion against President Vladimir Putins military chiefs over the war in Ukraine has revealed « divisions » within the Russian leadership, French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday.
The abandoned advance on Moscow « shows the divisions that exist within the Russian camp, and the fragility of both its military and its auxillary forces », Macron told the Provence newspaper, saying « the situation is still developing » and he was « following events hour by hour ».
5:51pm: Erdogan tells NATO chief that Sweden must stop PKK supporters Stockholm protests for approval of alliance membership bid
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a phone call on Sunday that Sweden must stop protests in Stockholm by supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is outlawed in Turkey, for membership to NATO.
Erdogan told Stoltenberg that Turkey had a constructive attitude, but Sweden’s change of terrorism laws to meet demands from Ankara was « meaningless » while PKK supporters hold protests in the country, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
5:18pm:Ukraine sees Wagner revolt as sign West need not fear Russia on military aid for Kyiv
Ukrainian authorities see the Wagner Group’s aborted rebellion against Russia’s military leadership as evidence that the West need not not fear President Vladimir Putin’s government when considering whether to supply more weapons to Kyiv.
FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports:
4:42pm: China says it supports Russia in protecting national stability
China on Sunday said it supported Russia in « protecting national stability », in Beijing’s first official remarks on the short-lived armed uprising led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group.
The uprising was Russia’s « internal affair », the ministry said.
Beijing had until late Sunday refrained from commenting on the weekend’s turmoil in Russia, which saw Prigozhin agree to go into exile after President Vladimir Putin accepted an amnesty deal.
On Sunday, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Andrey Rudenko in Beijing.
The two diplomats discussed « China-Russia relations, » Beijing said, as well as « international and regional issues of common concern ».
In its readout of the talks, Moscow said Beijing had « expressed support for the efforts of the leadership of the Russian Federation to stabilise the situation in the country ».
4:22pm: Blinken says Wagner rebellion marks direct challenge to Putin
Russia’s crisis involving the Wagner Groups aborted revolt against the Kremlin exposed « real cracks » in President Vladimir Putin’s authority, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday.
The uprising by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and a contingent of the mercenary group over the weekend marked « a direct challenge to Putin’s authority », Blinken told CBS News talk show « Face the Nation. »
« So this raises profound questions, it shows real cracks, » the top American diplomat said.
The remarks were the first public declarations about the developments in Russia by the United States, which over the past 24 hours had been intensively engaged in consultations with European allies on the revolt.
Blinken, making the rounds on multiple Sunday talk shows, said it was « too early » to speculate on the impact of the crisis, either on the Kremlin or on the war in Ukraine.
But he deemed it an « extraordinary » series of events, in which a close Putin
ally who sent his private mercenaries into Ukraine to undertake some of the most brutal fighting of the war rapidly turned against Russia’s military leadership and threatened the Kremlin.
US spy agencies picked up signs days ago that mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was preparing to rise upand briefed the White House, a fullday before it unfolded, the Washington Post and New York Times reported.
1:15pm: Russia says Ukrainian attacks in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia regions repelled
Russia’s defence ministry on Sunday said it had repelled attempted attacks by Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.The ministry also said it had repelled 10 attacks in the Bakhmut area, agencies reported. »Over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s armed forces have continued to attempt offensive action, » the defence ministry said in a statement,
One day earlier, Ukraine had claimed « progress » in the east of the country.
The battlefield reports could not be independently verified.
11:50am: Rebellious Wagner troops not to be prosecuted, those not taking part in uprising to be offered contracts by the Defence Ministry, according to deal with Kremlin
Under the deal announced Saturday by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov with rebellious Wagner Group, Moscow said it would not prosecute Wagner fighters who took part, while those who did not join in were to be offered contracts by the Defence Ministry.
Mercenary chief Evgeni Prigozhin ordered his troops back to their field camps in Ukraine, where they have been fighting alongside Russian regular soldiers. Prigozhin himself will go to neighbouring Belarus, which has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Charges against him of mounting an armed rebellion will be droppedunder a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
10:50am: One civilian killed in Russian shelling of southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, governor says
A civilian man died after Russian forces shelled Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson, local governor said on Sunday.« One of the shells exploded right in the middle of the room, » Oleksandr Prokudin said on the Telegram messaging app. He said another woman was trapped under the rubble but alive.
Ukrainian authorities also reported that Russians shelled the south of Dnipropetrovsk region during the night, injuring one person and damaging three private houses.
This information could not be independently verified.
Ukraine recaptured the city of Kherson and parts of the Kherson region in November after months of Russian occupation, but Russian forces regularly shell the city and surrounding areas from the opposite side of Dnipro River.
10:25am: Wagner forces leaving Russias southern Voronezh region ‘without incidents’, governor says
Wagner fighters were leaving Russia’s southern Voronezh region Sunday, the local governor said, after the group halted a dramatic rebellion to bring down Russia’s top brass and U-turned on a march to Moscow.
« The movement of Wagner units through the Voronezh region is ending, » Voronezh governor Alexander Gusev said. « It is running normally and without incidents, » Gusev added, saying travel restrictions imposed during Saturday’s operation against the rebellion will be lifted once « the situation is finally resolved. »
8:40am: Kyiv troops not able to benefit from Wagner rebellion
Ukrainian troops have not been able to take advantage of the Wagner troops rebellion in Russia because the Wagner troops who left for Russia were not on the front lines anymore and had been pulled back from the battle for Bakhmut, says FRANCE 24s Gulliver Cragg from Kyiv.
8:20am: US spy agencies detected signs of Russia revolt days prior, media reveal
US spy agencies picked up signs days ago that mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was preparing to rise up against Russia’s defence establishment, US media reported on Saturday.
Intelligence officials conducted briefings at the White House, the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill about the potential for unrest in nuclear-armed Russia a full day before it unfolded, the Washington Post and New York Times reported.
Spy agencies first began tracking indications that Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenary force intended to move against the Russian military leadership in mid-June, the Post said. The Times said the information was both solid and alarming by mid-week, leading to the flurry of briefings.
US spy agencies believe that Putin himself was informed that Prigozhin, once a close ally, was plotting his rebellion at least a day before it occurred, the Post reported.
8:05am: Russias Rostov-on-Don calm after Prigozhin departure
The situation around the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don was calm and street traffic resumed, RIA state news agency said on Sunday after Yevgeny Prigozhin and his mercenaries left the city.
In a video on the agency’s Telegram messaging app, which it said was taken in the city of Rostov-on-Don, a man was sweeping a street and cars were moving along another street.
These reports could not be independently verified.
Late on Saturday, Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, was seen leaving the district military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don after halting a rebellion against Russia’s military establishment.
7:20am: Chaos in Russia works in our advantage, Kyiv says
Chaos in Russia works to Kyiv’s advantage, Ukraine officials said on Saturday, but it remains to be seen whether President Volodymyr Zelensky and his army can capitalise on the disorder caused this weekend as mercenaries marched towards Moscow.
« Today the world saw that the masters of Russia do not control anything. Nothing at all. Just complete chaos, » Zelensky said in his nightly video address, urging Ukraine’s allies to use the moment and send more weapons to Kyiv.
The Prigozhin unrest, the biggest internal challenge to President Vladimir Putin as Russia’s paramount leader for 23 years, has spurred global security concerns and a frenzy of calls between Washington and its allies to coordinate actions.
« Any chaos behind the enemy lines works in our interests, » State-run Ukrinform news agency quoted Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as saying on Saturday.
6:56am: Traffic restrictions still in place in Russias Moscow and Tula regions
Traffic restrictions remained on the M-4 « Don » major expressway in the Moscow and Tula regions on Sunday, the Federal Road Agency said on the Telegram messaging app.
« According to earlier decisions made in the regions, the restriction of traffic along the M-4 ‘Don’ (highway) in the Tula and Moscow regions remains in place, » the agency said.
Heavily armed Russian mercenaries who had advanced most of the way to Moscow on Saturday then halted their approach, de-escalating a major challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power, in a move their leader said would avoid bloodshed.
Key developments from Saturday, June 24:
The head of the Wagner groupwill go to Belarus and will not face charges after calling off his troops’ advance on Moscow, the Russian government said, easing the country’s most serious security crisis in decades.
The feud between Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russia’s military brass came to a crisis on Saturday, with Wagner forces capturing a key army headquarters in southern Russia and then heading north to threaten the capital.
Within hours of Prigozhin’s about-face, the Kremlin announced he would leave for Belarus and Russia would not prosecute him or Wagner members.
It had been a dramatic day, with President Vladimir Putin warning against civil war, Moscow telling locals to stay off the streets and Kyiv revelling in the chaos engulfing its enemy.
The tide shifted suddenly when Prigozhin made the stunning announcement that his troops were « turning our columns around and going back to field camps » to avoid bloodshed in the Russian capital.
Prigozhin, who has feuded bitterly with Moscow’s military leadership even as his outfit led parts of Russia’s Ukraine offensive, said he understood the importance of the moment and did not want to « spill Russian blood ».
Read yesterday’s liveblog to see how all the day’s events unfolded.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)