Moscow mayor issues warning as Putin’s soldiers build defences around the capital as they brace for arrival of Wagner fighters

‘Stay at home!’ Moscow mayor issues warning as Putin’s soldiers build defences around the capital as they brace for arrival of Wagner fighters

Moscow is preparing for war as soldiers build outposts and military vehicles flood the streets ahead of the expected arrival of Russia’s Wagner militia forces within hours.

A total of 5,000 Wagner forces are reportedly advancing toward Moscow, currently approaching Lipetsk. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is said to have a total of 25,000 men at his disposal and a further 5,000 of them were in Rostov-on-Don, the southern city key to Russia’s war in Ukraine that Prigozhin said he had taken control of.

The convoy inching towards Moscow is said to be led by senior Wagner commander and neo-Nazi Dmitry Utkin. A source said Wagner’s plan for Moscow was to take up positions in a densely built-up area.

A number of restrictions have now been introduced around the Russian capital following a decree from the governor as people were told to refrain from travelling round Moscow.

Prigozhin initiated a military coup against Putin overnight, which has seen the group take key cities and threaten the President, who called them ‘traitors’.

Putin earlier addressed the Russian people, warning that Prigozhin had ‘stabbed him in the back’, as Moscow enters into a lockdown, with troops digging in in preparation to defend the city.

A spokesperson for the Russian president said Putin was still at work in the Kremlin and had not fled Moscow. However, two presidential jets were seen flying from Moscow in the direction of St Petersburg. It was reported to have switched off its transponder to prevent tracking the route.

Prigozhin and his  25,000-strong Wagner militia took control of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don Saturday, saying they are ‘ready to die’ for their ‘march of justice’, and have been heading north in a hundreds-strong convoy of armoured vehicles.

The unit passed through the halfway city of Voronezh and are soon approaching Lipetsk on their way to Moscow, seeing negligible resistance.

A message posted on the Wagner Telegram channel on Saturday said: ‘Putin made the wrong choice. All the worse for him. Soon we will have a new president.’

Russia has responded by increasing security in Moscow, mobilising troops who are set to defend against the incursion, and calling for the military to rally around President Putin.

All public events have been cancelled and Monday has already been declared a non-working day, as Putin called close ally Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko to brief him on the situation.

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