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For several hours this weekend, it seemed that Russia was headed for a major domestic conflict, as members of the Wagner Group, a large private military organization led by “Putin’s Chef” Yevgeny Prigozhin, drove toward Moscow to call for changes in military leadership. Then, almost as suddenly as it had started, the apparent coup was halted. Yahoo News explains.
- This weekend, something weird and kind of scary happened in Russia, which looked like the beginning of a military coup but then suddenly ended. Here's what you need to know.
On Friday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company playing a large role in the invasion of Ukraine, released a series of statements accusing Russian military brass of deceiving the public about why they had invaded Ukraine and calling for the removal of Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu. Prigozhin then started marching his troops into Russia towards Moscow, capturing the city of Rostov-on-Don along the way.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin ordered Prigozhin's arrest, with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling him a traitor. Still, Wagner's soldiers continue toward Moscow. And the city began preparing for the worst, while Western leaders braced for what seemed like the beginning of a major domestic conflict inside Russia.
- The White House has been very tense about these developments.
- The president did have a call this morning with the leaders of Germany, France, and the UK.
- The truth of the matter is chaos in the Kremlin, on the whole, is not good news for the US or the world.
- Then just 129 miles outside of Moscow, the Wagner Group suddenly stopped and turned around. According to reports, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal with Prigozhin. And while we still don't know the exact details, it appears at least some of the Wagner fighters have been granted amnesty and been offered roles within the Russian military. And in return for having the charges against him dropped, Prigozhin has been exiled to Belarus.
So the immediate crisis appears to be over. But the very act of defiance is likely to have huge repercussions for Russian leadership. And as the story develops, Yahoo News will have the latest.