Putin ally says Wagner advanced so fast as focus was on defending Moscow

Putin ally says Wagner advanced so fast as focus was on defending Moscow

Forces loyal to the state had focused on bolstering the defences of Moscow, allowing mutineers from the Wagner mercenary group to advance quickly towards the capital, according to a statement made by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a renegade mercenary and ally of President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin claimed that his fighters marched 780 kilometers in a day to within 200 kilometers of Moscow on Saturday, describing it as a “master class” in how the Ukraine war should have been fought by the Russian army.

However, Viktor Zolotov, a close Putin ally and director of the National Guard, offered a different interpretation. Zolotov, who had been in constant contact with Putin on Friday and Saturday, stated that the reason for the Wagner fighters’ rapid advance was that all of the state’s strength had been concentrated in Moscow. The National Guard, a force of over 340,000, was established in 2016 to ensure order and security alongside the police and security services.

Zolotov, who served as head of the presidential bodyguard from 2000 to 2013 and was sometimes seen carrying an automatic weapon to protect Putin on dangerous trips, said that his men had been prepared to fight to the death to defend the state. He also revealed that the guards would be equipped with heavy weaponry and tanks in the future, following their preparations to defend Moscow against the Wagner fighters.

Zolotov, who had stood beside Boris Yeltsin on a tank as he led resistance to the 1991 coup attempt by hardliners against Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, emphasized that his men were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. “They will all stand to the death,” he declared.

The article was reported by Guy Faulconbridge and edited by Gareth Jones, and adheres to The Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles.

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