A long-running feud over the invasion of Ukraine between the Russian military and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s private Wagner military group, escalated into an open confrontation over the past day.
Prigozhin accused Russia of attacking his soldiers and appeared to challenge one of President Vladimir Putin’s main justifications for the war, and Russian generals in turn accused him of trying to mount a coup against Putin.
Prigozhin (pronounced pree-GOH-zhin) claimed he had control of Russia’s southern military headquarters in the city of Rostov-on-Don, near the front lines of the war in Ukraine where his fighters had been operating. Video showed him entering the headquarters’ courtyard.
Prigozhin's moves set up the biggest challenge to Putin’s authority since he invaded of Ukraine early last year. Putin promised “decisive actions,” and Russian security forces scrambled to regain control in the country’s south.
Events unfolded rapidly:
Prigozhin stepped up his criticisms of the Russian military in videos posted to social media yesterday. He said Russian troops had attacked Wagner encampments and killed “a huge number of fighters.” His claims could not be verified, but he promised to bring soldiers into Russia in retaliation.
Troops widely believed to be Wagner forces surrounded the military headquarters in Rostov, and tanks drove down the city’s streets, videos showed. Soldiers were also seen in other key places, like the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the region.
Signs of active fighting were also visible near the western Russian city of Voronezh, according to videos posted online, including helicopters and a destroyed truck along the road. Reports said that Wagner fighters had entered the region.
Prigozhin declared that his forces were headed to Moscow. “We are going farther,” he said. “We will go to the end.”
Russia military armored vehicles were deployed on the streets of Moscow and in Rostov-on-Don, and Russia was moving convoys of military equipment on a major highway linking the two cities.
Russian security forces appeared to have also raided a Wagner building in St. Petersburg.
Putin vowed “to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don.” He also called Wagner’s actions a treasonous, armed rebellion. Prigozhin rejected the allegations.
The key figures
Prigozhin: Though he has complained for months about Russia’s military brass, his accusations were a significant turnabout. Prigozhin is a businessman who became rich through his ties to Putin, winning lucrative government contracts while building the Wagner mercenary force. (Read more about him from The Times’s Moscow bureau chief, Anton Troianovski.)
Putin: His quick public address was a sign of the seriousness of the situation. He prefers to exert power behind the scenes until the outcome is clear, The Times’s Steven Lee Myers wrote. Putin also acknowledged some success by Prigozhin, saying that the functioning of Rostov, a city of a million people, had “essentially been blocked.”
The generals: Prigozhin's feud with the Russian generals grew out of the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which his forces led on the Russian side. He accused the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, and the country’s most senior general, Valery Gerasimov, of treason. He said they deliberately withheld ammunition and supplies from Wagner while their troops failed repeatedly in the war.
Ukraine: “Russia’s weakness is obvious,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said. But his country was still mired in violence. Russian forces fired more than 20 missiles at Kyiv this morning, killing at least three people.
The British military described the crisis as the “most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times” and said: “Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out.”
More Russia news
Here’s what we know so far.
Putin struck a tough tone in his address.
Follow our live updates.
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By Gilbert Cruz
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By Melissa Clark
Cold Noodles With Tomatoes
As we slide into full-on tomato season, you’ll want a selection of easy recipes that you can turn to all summer long. Be sure to add Eric Kim’s savory cold noodles with tomatoes to your list. Seasoned with a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame, along with scallions and a little garlic, the halved cherry tomatoes get juicy as they sit, releasing liquid that becomes a cooling broth when mixed with crushed ice. It’s like a cross between a gazpacho and naengmyeon, the chilled Korean noodle soup. Serve it as is for a light and summery main course, or top with poached shrimp or halved hard-cooked eggs for something a bit heftier.
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A speaker for summer
For me, music in the summer means relaxing on a beach while listening to Miles Davis’s “Jack Johnson,” or checking out the Top 40 on my back porch while watching the sun set. A good Bluetooth speaker can make these moments happen. Wirecutter’s favorite, the UE Wonderboom 3, is compact and rugged. This grapefruit-size speaker has a surprisingly full, clear sound, and it’s tough enough to survive a 5-foot drop onto concrete or a 30-minute dunk underwater. Perfect for whatever your summer has in store. — Brent Butterworth
For more expert advice, independent reviews and intensively researched deals, sign up for Wirecutter’s daily newsletter.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
L.S.U. vs. Florida, College World Series finals: L.S.U. began the season as the favorite to win the title, and it reached the final with a walk-off home run to beat the No. 1 seed, Wake Forest. Unfortunately for L.S.U., the team’s ace starter, Paul Skenes, may not be available for the finals after going eight innings in the last game. “Give Florida the edge for the simple fact that the Gators have their pitching rotation set up for a three-game series,” The Athletic’s Mitch Light writes. 7 p.m. Eastern tonight on ESPN.
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NOW TIME TO PLAY
Here are today’s Spelling Bee and the Bee Buddy, which helps you find remaining words. Yesterday’s pangram was analyzing.
See the hardest Spelling Bee words from this week.
Take the news quiz to see how well you followed this week’s headlines.
And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.
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