Timeline: What Led to the Standoff Between Russia and Prigozhin

For years, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the Wagner mercenary leader who conducted a brief rebellion against the Russian military, had been a loyal supporter of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

In recent months, he continued to steer clear of directly criticizing Mr. Putin, even as he increasingly used social media to lambaste Russia’s military, accusing its leaders of treason and blaming them for failing to provide his forces with enough resources.

But over the last two days, he assailed the rationale for Mr. Putin’s so-called special military operation in Ukraine, sent his forces to seize the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, a military hub, and began to move Wagner convoys toward Moscow. Mr. Putin mobilized Russian troops to quell what he called an armed rebellion, and the Belarusian president, a Putin ally, negotiated a halt to the Wagner advance.

Here’s a look at Mr. Prigozhin’s history and some of the claims he has made:

December 2016

The United States imposed sanctions against 15 Russian entities, including Mr. Prigozhin, for their dealings in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, and in Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists seized territory the same year. The Treasury Department targeted businesspeople who were associates of Mr. Putin or were involved in activities that aided in Russia’s destabilization of Ukraine.

February 2018

Mr. Prigozhin was one of 13 Russians indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States for interfering in the 2016 presidential election through the Internet Research Agency, a troll factory that spread falsehoods and waged information warfare in support of the campaign of Donald J. Trump.

September 2022

Mr. Prigozhin publicly acknowledged for the first time that he was the founder of the Wagner mercenary organization, whose fighters were deployed alongside Russian troops in Ukraine. Previously, Wagner fighters had operated in support of the Kremlin’s military campaigns in Africa and the Middle East, occasionally battling against U.S. forces.

October 2022

Mr. Prigozhin was one of two powerful supporters of Mr. Putin to publicly turn on Russia’s military leadership after it ordered a retreat from Lyman, a key city in eastern Ukraine, emphasizing that the retreat was a major embarrassment for the Kremlin.

November 2022

Just a day before the U.S. midterms, Mr. Prigozhin sardonically boasted that Russia was interfering in the election.

“Gentlemen, we have interfered, we do interfere and we will interfere,” Mr. Prigozhin said in a statement posted by his catering company. “We will do it carefully, precisely, surgically as we are capable of doing it. During our targeted operations, we will remove both kidneys and liver at once.”

At the time, Wagner troops were advancing on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which had been under Russian attack for months.

February 2023

Mr. Prigozhin accused two Russian military leaders of treason in a series of hostile audio messages. He claimed that the Russian defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, and its most senior general, Valery V. Gerasimov, were withholding ammunition and supplies from his fighters to try to destroy Wagner.

Earlier in the month, Mr. Prigozhin had said that Wagner would no longer recruit fighters from Russian prisons, a practice that had raised criticism from human rights groups but helped fuel Moscow’s advances in eastern Ukraine.

May 2023

Mr. Prigozhin issued a series of inflammatory statements. He once again accused Russia’s military bureaucracy of starving Wagner forces of necessary ammunition and threatened to withdraw them from Bakhmut. Days later, he appeared to backtrack on that threat after saying he had been promised more arms.

In late May, Wagner forces said they had captured Bakhmut, a claim it had made previously as well. Ukrainian officials quickly denied the claim, but days later acknowledged the loss of the city. Russian state media kept Mr. Prigozhin’s name out of its coverage of those events.

Earlier in the month, Mr. Prigozhin dismissed a report from The Washington Post saying that leaked intelligence showed he had offered to share Russian Army positions with Ukraine.

June 2023

Tensions between Mr. Prigozhin and Russia’s military rose higher. Mr. Prigozhin said Wagner would not comply with an order that would require it to sign a formal contract with Russia’s defense ministry by July.

The feud rapidly escalated on Friday of last week, when Mr. Prigozhin released a 30-minute video in which he described his country’s invasion of Ukraine as a “racket” perpetrated by a corrupt elite chasing money and glory without concern for Russian lives. He also challenged the Kremlin’s claim that Kyiv had been on the verge of attacking Russian-backed separatist territory in Ukraine’s east when Russia invaded.

“The war wasn’t needed to return Russian citizens to our bosom, nor to demilitarize or denazify Ukraine,” Mr. Prigozhin said, referring to Mr. Putin’s initial justifications for the war. “The war was needed so that a bunch of animals could simply exult in glory.”

Mr. Prigozhin also accused Mr. Shoigu, the Russian minister of defense, of orchestrating a deadly attack with missiles and helicopters on camps to the rear of the Russian lines in Ukraine, where his soldiers were bivouacked.

The Russian defense ministry denied the allegations, saying in a statement that the messages Mr. Prigozhin had posted about supposed strikes on Wagner camps “do not correspond to reality.” His account of the attacks remains unconfirmed.

Mr. Putin mobilized Russian troops on Saturday to defend Moscow from what he called an armed rebellion by Mr. Prigozhin, whose forces had claimed control of Rostov-on-Don and were seen moving north along a highway toward the Russian capital. Then, in a surprise turn of events, the Belarusian president, Alexsandr G. Lukashenko, said he had secured Mr. Prigozhin’s agreement to halt his forces’ advance. Mr. Prigozhin confirmed that he was turning his forces around.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, said that Mr. Prigozhin would flee to Belarus, and that Russia’s military operations in Ukraine would continue unchanged.

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