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Wagner troops leave as Putin is weakened by the Russian rebellion.

On Sunday, Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin and his fighters were evacuating from southern Russia after reaching an agreement with Moscow to terminate his armed revolt in the aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s biggest crisis as president.

The Kremlin claimed Prizoghin would travel to Belarus after the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko, secured the accord to stop the rebellion.

On Sunday afternoon, Prigozhin’s press office told Russian channel RTVI that the warlord “says hello to everyone and will answer questions when he has good [cell phone] reception.” According to video footage posted by Russian state news agency RIA, he left the city of Rostov-on-Don Saturday evening, with fans praising the Wagner Group leader.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed the movement revealed “real cracks” in Putin’s control. “This raises serious concerns…”We do know that Putin will have a lot more to answer for in the coming weeks and months,” Blinken said.

Blinken described the issue as a “unfolding story,” adding, “I believe we are in the midst of a moving picture.” We haven’t seen the final act yet.”

Wagner’s soldiers, according to authorities in southern Russia, were withdrawing from the area. At before 11 a.m. local time, Voronezh Province Governor Alexander Gusev posted on his official Telegram account that “the movement of… Wagner units through Voronezh region is about to end.” It’s going well and without incident.”

Crowds line the street as Wagner fighters prepare to pull out of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday © Roman Romokhov/AFP/Getty Images

Video footage shared elsewhere on Telegram seems to support this, showing multiple military trucks bearing Wagner flags driving at daybreak from Voronezh’s northern outskirts towards Rostov-on-Don, reversing the route they had travelled from Ukraine on Saturday.

Authorities in the Lipetsk region claimed Wagner forces had also left this area, closer to Moscow, at 1pm.

Chechen special forces began their pullback from Rostov to the Ukrainian lines on Sunday, according to the Chechen Republic’s official broadcaster. These fighters had not reached Rostov’s city core, where the Wagner forces were stationed, and had not engaged in any combat with the other militia. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov called their actions “extremely efficient and well planned.”

According to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, the Kremlin “struggled to cohere an effective rapid response to Wagner’s advances, likely due to surprise and the heavy impact of losses in Ukraine.”

“Wagner could have reached the outskirts of Moscow if Prigozhin had chosen to order it,” the group stated, adding that the events would “likely significantly damage Putin’s government and the Russian war effort in Ukraine.”

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves Rostov on Saturday © Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, and Valery Gerasimov, the country’s chief of staff, both kept silent on Sunday. Prigozhin had made them the target of his rants in the months leading up to the coup attempt, claiming they had withheld weapons from his men in Ukraine, where they had been a key part of the invading force.

Wagner, the most powerful of the private militias fighting in Ukraine, had recruited thousands of Russian inmates. On Saturday, when Wagner forces began to withdraw from Russia, the Kremlin stated that those who participated in the uprising would not be prosecuted, while those who did not participate would be offered contracts with Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

Blinken stated that the United States is prepared for “every contingency,” but added, “We haven’t seen any change in Russia’s nuclear posture.” In our case, nothing has changed. But it’s something we’ll be keeping a close eye on.”

He said state department officials had “some engagement with the Russians over the weekend,” but he wouldn’t say if US President Joe Biden or CIA Director Bill Burns had tried to contact their Russian colleagues.

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