The Russian military has ordered Wagner troops to return to their bases amid reports the mercenary group has launched a coup against the Kremlin.
On Friday night Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner mercenary leader, accused the Russian military of shelling his fighters and said his group would stop the “evil” of Moscow’s military leadership.
Ukrainian forces are stepping up their attacks on the frontline to “take advantage” of Wagner’s attempted coup, according to Russia’s ministry of defence.
Kyiv had ordered attacks on a section of the front north of Bakhmut, the MoD said.
“Taking advantage of Prigozhin’s provocation which had disorganised the situation, the Kyiv regime in the Bakhmutovsky tactical direction is concentrating units of the 35th Marine Brigade and the 36th Mechanized Infantry on the starting lines for offensive operations ,” it said.
Prigozhin said that he has 25,000 fighters ready to battle the Russian army and has called on regular Russian soldiers to join his coup attempt.
The Russian army has deployed soldiers around strategic sites in Moscow and Rostov, the city in southern Russia used as a base by Russian military commanders but the location of Mr Prigozhin and his fighters is unclear.
Ukraine launched its counteroffensive against Russian forces more than a fortnight ago but has admitted that progress has been slow.
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