The Wagner uprising
June 23: Prigozhin announces ‘march for justice’
“Wagner’s commanders have come to a decision. The evil being spread by the country’s military leadership must be stopped,” Prigozhin says in a Telegram voicenote at around 9pm. His announces that his 25,000 men will start moving from their base camps in east Ukraine towards Moscow. “This is not a military coup. It is a march for justice,” he adds.
June 23: russian officials scramble to respond
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman confirms the Russian president has been informed that evening. An urgent news bulletin is screened on the state’s Channel One and military vehicles are sent to the streets of Moscow. Russia’s FSB security service announces it has opened a criminal case against Prigozhin for “organising an armed insurrection”, as top army general Sergei Surovikin calls for Wagner fighters to lay down their arms.
June 24: insurrection reaches Rostov-on-Don
By the early hours of the next morning, Wagner mercenaries reach Rostov-on-Don, home to the Russian army’s southern command, which is in charge of the war in Ukraine.
June 24: Wagner takes control of government buildings
Heavily armed Wagner fighters encircle key buildings in Rostov-on-Don, including the military headquarters, local government building and head office of the FSB. Prigozhin is filmed in the army’s seized HQ, sitting down for a terse conversation with Russia’s deputy minister of defence.
june 24: putin addresses the nation
State TV is interrupted by an emergency broadcast at 10am. “Internal traitors,” the president says, have “allowed their personal interests to lead them to treason”. “Action will be taken,” he adds. Putin’s grave address does not mention Prigozhin by name but he accuses his organisation of “blackmail and terrorist methods”.
june 24: Wagner forces head through Voronezh
A convoy of Wagner vehicles and fighters continue to press north from Rostov up the M4 highway, which leads to Moscow. Tanks and other vehicles move in smaller units. By midday, the column is heading through the Voronezh region. The Russian army attempt to intercept it, with Wagner fighters reportedly downing aircraft.
june 24: Russia seizes Prigozhin’s assets
As Wagner’s forces advance towards Moscow, Russian investigators seize Rbs4bn ($47mn) in cash found stuffed in cardboard boxes inside a minivan during a raid on a Prigozhin-owned hotel in St Petersburg. Prigozhin says the haul — which also included three false passports, 5kg in gold bars, six pistols and five bricks of an unspecified white powder, according to local site Fontanka — was only one of three buses filled with cash. He claims the money is used to finance Wagner’s operations and pay fighters’ widows, as well as settle “other issues” he does not specify.
june 24: the insurrection reaches lipetsk
The Russian army’s attempts to intercept the Wagner convoy fail and it continues to head north. By 4pm, it reaches the Lipetsk region, 400km from the southern edge of Moscow. Local authorities and the army rush to find ways to prevent the column’s advance. The Oka river, which cuts across the region just south of Moscow, becomes a key defence line for the capital, with bridge crossings blocked by the army.
june 24: Prigozhin halts the insurrection — and disappears
As the convoy presses closer to Moscow, Russians’ fear of bloodshed mounts. But as evening falls, Prigozhin suddenly announces a withdrawal. “In the space of 24 hours, we have made it as far as 200km away from Moscow,” he says on Telegram. “Now is the moment when blood could be spilled” and in order to avoid this “we are turning our convoy around”, he says, before disappearing from public for nearly three days.
june 24: Belarus Leader brokers deal
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko confirms he has struck a deal with Putin and Prigozhin. Wagner troops will withdraw back to Ukraine and Prigozhin will go to Belarus. Some of Putin’s supporters express disappointment at the Russian president’s about-face, choosing to let Wagner off after the fighters marched close to Moscow, killing at least 13 Russian servicemen in the process.
june 25: the calm after the storm
Wagner troops begin crossing out of Russia, heading back into occupied parts of Ukraine. Few physical signs of the coup are left, despite the uprising being the biggest crisis of Putin’s presidency.
JUne 26: Prigozhin still under investigation
Ria Novosti, Russia’s main state news service, says the prosecutor-general’s office has not dropped the charges against Prigozhin. Meanwhile, Russian business newspaper Kommersant reports that the FSB is still investigating Prigozhin.
June 27: Putin tells wagner fighters to join army or leave
In his first public comments since the end of Prigozhin’s armed uprising, Putin tells Wagner paramilitaries to sign contracts with Russia’s defence ministry, go home or leave the country for Belarus. The Russian president insists Wagner’s revolt was doomed to fail from the outset and says the mutiny’s organisers “betrayed the country and those who were with them”. Most of the fighters are “patriots of Russia” who had been “used” by their command, he adds.
june 27: Prigozhin breaks his silence
Prigozhin, who has not been heard from since he announced that his convoy would not continue on to Moscow, breaks his silence to deny Putin’s claims of a coup. “We didn’t have the goal of toppling the existing regime, which is lawfully elected, as we have said many times,” he insists. Instead, he wanted to “prevent the destruction” of Wagner and hold to account those who “made a huge amount of mistakes” during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he says.
june 27: putin confirms russia funded wagner’s operations
Putin admits for the first time — after years of Kremlin denials — that Wagner had been “completely financed” by the Russian state, with Rbs86bn ($1bn) in payments made from May 2022 to May 2023 along with a further Rbs110bn in insurance payouts. In addition, Putin confirms that Prigozhin’s catering company Concord received a further Rbs80bn in army catering contracts.
june 29: ‘General Armageddon’ detained
Senior Russian army general Sergei Surovikin is detained as the Kremlin cracks down on Wagner sympathisers. Nicknamed “General Armageddon” for his brutal bombardment tactics in Syria, Surovikin is known to have a good relationship with Prigozhin.
july 3: Prigozhin appeals for public support for Wagner
Prigozhin calls on the Russian public to stand up for Wagner paramilitaries as the group continues to recruit troops for the war in Ukraine, in apparent contradiction of the terms of a truce with the Kremlin. A Wagner recruiter contacted on the group’s hotline says various “job openings” are available and suggests no disruption has occurred since the insurrection.
JUly 6: Lukashenko says Prigozhin has been in Russia
Lukashenko says Prigozhin has been spending time in Russia, despite a peace deal with Moscow under which he had agreed to relocate to Belarus. Prigozhin is not in jail and is unlikely to get “whacked”, according to Lukashenko.
July 17: Wagner to close its main training base in RussiA
Wagner will shut its main training base in Russia by the end of July, according to a video statement shared by an affiliated channel on Telegram. “The base is ceasing to exist,” says one of the men in the video.
july 19: Prigozhin says Wagner has relocated to Belarus
In a video filmed in a field, Prigozhin welcomes a group of men purportedly to Belarus. “What’s happening on the front is a disgrace that we don’t need to take part in,” he tells them. “So a decision has been taken that we will be here in Belarus for some time.” Wagner’s new base near Osipovichi is where the group will gather its strength before “heading off for Africa”. “We may return to [fight in Ukraine] when we will be certain that we won’t be made to disgrace ourselves and our experience,” Prigozhin adds.
july 27: Prigozhin appears on sidelines of Russia-Africa summit
Prigozhin appears on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg, where he is photographed shaking hands with Freddy Mapouka, chief of protocol for the Central African Republic’s president. Prigozhin’s continued presence in Russia suggests that he remains an important part of the Kremlin establishment — from which Putin has so far proved reluctant or unable to disentangle him.
august 23: Prigozhin in fatal plane crash, Russian officials say
An aircraft said to be carrying Prigozhin crashed on a flight from Moscow to St Petersburg. All 10 people on the plane died in the crash, Russia’s emergency ministry said. A list of names of people aboard the jet published by Russia’s aviation agency included Prigozhin and his right-hand man, Dmitry Utkin. A Wagner-linked social media page also reported Prigozhin’s death. “The head of the Wagner Group, a hero of Russia and true patriot . . . died as a result of the actions of traitors to Russia,” the Telegram post said.