Thursday, July 18, 2024

Putin ‘flees Moscow’ as Wagner troops advance in rapid onslaught

The whereabouts of the Russian leader remained unclear, but reports said his plane was briefly seen flying towards St Petersburg.

• June 24, 2023
Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin has reportedly left Moscow as Wagner paramilitary fighters intensified their onslaught across Russia to seize control of the country.

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said Mr Putin made a mistake when the Russian president condemned the private military group and threatened to punish its members for armed rebellion. 

TASS, Russia’s main government-run outlet, reported that Putin fled to St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, on Saturday.

East European news outlet Nexta also reported that Putin’s plane took off from Moscow and disappeared from the radar. It was heading towards St Petersburg at about 2:16 p.m. local time. The flight suddenly disappeared from the radar, reports said.

A spokesman for the Kremlin denied Putin had fled, but most Russians believed the news agency. The contradictory report also indicates that there’s a breakdown of command in Russia, as it is extremely rare for the statement of the state-run TASS to contradict that of the Kremlin.

Wagner fighters continue to advance through the country after seizing the southern city of Rostov with little resistance overnight.

The raging mutiny and coup came after Mr Prigozhin said Putin authorised the bombing of his men who were beating back Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said his forces would aid Russia put down the rebellion by the Wagner Group, a private military contract, which now seems to be the biggest threat to Mr Putin’s over two decades in power.

The Wagner fighters have reportedly entered the Moscow region as of mid-afternoon local time, just hours after seizing the southern Rostov city and taking over a federal defence ministry headquarters there with no serious resistance. It was unclear whether or not Mr Prigozhin will descend on the Kremlin immediately if his fighters are able to enter Moscow’s city centre, where Russian troops are said to be divided about whether or not they should ally with Wagner or continue supporting Mr Putin’s regime. 

United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said NATO and its allies are closely monitoring the situation in Russia, without expressing any further details about the alliance’s strategy. Ukrainian forces are already seeking to enter Russia, but are still says to be meeting resistance from scattered Russian troops still on the frontlines. 

We have recently deactivated our website's comment provider in favour of other channels of distribution and commentary. We encourage you to join the conversation on our stories via our Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages.

More from Peoples Gazette

Katsina State

Politics

Katsina youths pledge to deliver over 2 million votes to Atiku

“Katsina State is Atiku’s political base because it is his second home.”

NAFDAC

Health

NAFDAC destroys N18 million expired drugs in Katsina

He said some of the expired drugs weighing about 15 metric tonnes were willingly submitted by the owners, while some were seized.

Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC)

Abuja

NLC threatens nationwide protest over alleged attack on ASUU, SSANU members by Abuja CP

The NLC condemned the police commissioner’s action and threatened to protest nationwide if he failed to urgently apologise for trampling on both unions’ rights.

NLC, TUC protest

Abuja

NLC condemns police for restricting peaceful NASU, SSANU protest in Abuja

“In light of this, we demand an immediate police apology to NASU and SSANU members whom they violated.”

Bright Edafe

States

Police nab hotelier, rescue 35 trafficked victims in Delta

Mr Edafe said the 35 victims, rescued on Monday in a hotel, included 23 teenagers.

Senator Uba Sani

States

Pro-Uba Sani thugs handcuff DanBilki Komanda, flog him for criticising governor

A video surfaced on social media showing Mr Komanda in handcuffs as he was severely beaten by individuals who frowned at his criticisms of Mr Sani.