MOSCOW — Wagner Mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said Saturday that he is ordering his forces to halt their advance on Moscow and turn back in order to avoid “spilling Russian blood.”
Speaking via the social media app Telegram, he claimed his fighters had made it just over 120 miles from Moscow without any bloodshed.
“Understanding all the responsibility for spilling Russian blood we turn back our columns to our field camps, according to the plan,” Prigozhin said.
Prigozhin’s comments come as Belarus, a Russian ally, announced they had reach a deal to stop the assault and avoid anymore bloodshed.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said in a statement that he helped broker a deal with Prigozhin to halt the march to Moscow.
“Negotiations continued throughout the day. As a result, they came to agreements on the inadmissibility of unleashing a bloody massacre on the territory of Russia,” the post said. “Yevgeny Prigozhin accepted the proposal of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to stop the movement of armed persons of the Wagner company on the territory of Russia and take further steps to de-escalate tensions.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the armed rebellion “complete chaos” and added “the masters of Russia do not control anything,” according to a translation.
“Ukraine will definitely be able to protect Europe from any Russian forces — and it does not matter who commands them. We will protect,” he said.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said the incident was “a well-thought-out and planned operation, the purpose of which is to seize power in the country.”
“Taking into account the high preparedness of the scheme, the professional coherence of actions, the high-quality control of the movement of troops, we can talk about the presence of a well-thought-out military plan and the participation in the rebellion of persons who previously served in the elite units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and quite possibly foreign specialists,” Medvedev told the state media outlet RIA, according to a translation.
Russian state media said Saturday the criminal case against Prigozhin would be dropped.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan canceled a previously planned trip to Denmark amid the situation in Russia, the White House said. Sullivan briefed President Joe Biden and traveled with him to Camp David.