As this publication covered throughout yesterday evening and this morning, the private military company Wagner, under the leadership of Yevgeny Prigozhin, has made significant rhetorical and kinetic movements against the Russian Ministry of Defense. Thus far, the only confirmed events are that Wagner troops moved on the Russian MoD Southern Military District headquarters in Rostov-on-Don and are now moving North to Moscow through Lipetsk Oblast. Prighozin has told his social media following that he seeks the arrest of Defense Minister Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Gerasimov after months of tension over mismanagement in Ukraine.
However, it is important to note the international response to the current crisis. The United Kingdom Defense Ministry was the first official foreign government body to comment at approximately 0400 with this statement:
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 24 June 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/K6An5jd2B8
— Ministry of Defence ?? (@DefenceHQ) June 24, 2023
By 0432 EST, Russian state-owned media announced that President Putin had called Belarusian President Lukashenko and discussed the current situation. He also called Kazakh President Tokayev, his other close Commonwealth of Independent States ally. The contents of the call were not released, but they did come before his speech decrying the rebellion and ordering the execution of those responsible. It can be reasonably inferred that these phone calls sought to assuage the two leaders and possibly call for support, if needed.
By 0445 EST, the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office told its citizens:
“On 24 June 2023 there were reports that forces under the control of Yevgeniy Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group Private Military Company, had occupied Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia. There were reports of fighting in the Rostov region and restrictions imposed in a number of parts of the country… and flights are unavailable in and out of the country.”
At 0457 EST, Putin-ally, Chechen Republic Leader Kadyrov told his citizens that Chechnya will support Putin and that Chechen National Guard troops “had already left for the zones of tension.” This is not surprising as Kadyrov and Prighozin had already been at odds since the Bakhmut offensive.
At the same time, the Baltic States began to weigh in on the situation:
Estonia is closely following the development of the situation in Russia and exchanging information with allies.
I can assure that there is no direct threat to our country.
Border security has been strengthened. I also urge our people not to travel to any part of Russia.
— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) June 24, 2023
The Latvian Foreign Minister also commented:
”Latvia is closely following the developing situation in Russia and exchanging information with allies
Border security has been strengthened, visa or border entry from Russians leaving Russia due to current events won’t be considered
No direct threat to Latvia at this time”
At 0839 EST, Russian state-owned media reported that Turkish President Erdogan had called President Putin and expressed “full support for the steps of the Russian leadership” in a call concerning the Wagner advance.
At 0908 EST, press reported that the European Union Crisis Response Centre activated in response to the current crisis. At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken made his first public announcement on the situation:
Spoke today with G7 Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to discuss the ongoing situation in Russia. The United States will stay in close coordination with Allies and partners as the situation continues to develop.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) June 24, 2023
As today progresses, further international response is expected, especially if Wagner troops succeed in their march to Moscow.