Commander Wagner orders mercenaries to halt March on Moscow

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In a surprising turn of events, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, said on Saturday that he had ordered his troops to stop their march in Moscow and return to their field camps in Ukraine to reduce tensions.

The announcement from a Putin ally appeared to defuse a domestic crisis that had been growing over the past 24 hours. According to the Associated Press, Moscow had prepared for the arrival of the private army led by the rebel leader. And President Vladimir Putin had promised severe consequences.

Prigozhin said that although his men are only 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Moscow, he decided to turn them back to avoid “shedding Russian blood”.

He did not say whether the Kremlin has responded to his request to expel Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin.

This news comes after a statement from the office of the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, saying that he had negotiated a deal with Prigozhin after previously discussing the matter with Putin.

Prigozhin appears to have accepted Lukashenko’s offer to halt the advance of the Wagner group, Lukashenko’s office said, adding that there is a security guarantee for Wagner’s troops in the proposed settlement.

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