Multiple Russian regions declared strict security measures on Saturday as Wagner forces continued their advance toward Moscow.
Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin issued a flurry of announcements related to heightened restrictions in the capital, as regional authorities in Lipetsk acknowledged that Wagner forces had entered their territory in the hours after the mercenary forces claimed to have taken the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. Telegram accounts dedicated to Wagner and its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin attacked Russian leadership, blaming the country’s top brass for myriad strategic and operational failures.
“A counter-terrorism operation status has been declared in Moscow,” Sobyanin announced via Telegram. “In connection with this, previously announced mass events in the city have been canceled.” He initially denied rumors of roadblocks on the outskirts of Moscow, but shortly thereafter announced heightened restrictions, including possible traffic blockages.
“In order to minimize risks, I have decided … to declare Monday a non-working day — with the exception of government bodies and businesses that require continuous operations, defense enterprises, and city services. I ask that you refrain from traveling around the city as much as possible. There may be traffic blockages in certain districts and on certain roads,” he said in the later announcement.
Lipetsk region governor Igor Artamonov announced earlier Saturday that Wagner forces had entered the region and urged residents to stay home. He later revealed that roads connecting his region to Moscow were being “deliberately damaged” as a means of stopping traffic flow to the capital.
The Kremlin has remained largely silent since Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Prigozhin of treason earlier Saturday. Rumors swirled that Putin had fled Moscow, though his whereabouts remain unknown.