June 24, 2023 - Wagner head says group standing down

By Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Sophie Tanno, Hafsa Khalil, Tori B. Powell, Adrienne Vogt and Kaanita Iyer, CNN

Updated 0406 GMT (1206 HKT) June 25, 2023
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12:05 a.m. ET, June 25, 2023

Our coverage of the Wagner insurrection in Russia has moved here.

10:31 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

Kazakh president to host emergency Security Council meeting

From CNN's Ivan Watson in Hong Kong

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is seen in Moscow on May 24.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is seen in Moscow on May 24. Bai Xueqi/Xinhua/Getty Images/FILE

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will hold an emergency meeting of his Security Council on Sunday, his office has said, hours after he called for "law and order" in Russia.

"The head of the government will hear reports from the prime minister (and) heads of the security forces about taking course measures connected to the situation in Russia," Tokayev's office wrote on Twitter, adding an "action plan is expected to be adopted to neutralize possible negative consequences linked to the situation in the neighboring friendly country impacting the security of citizens of Kazakhstan and the economy of our country."

The announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin called Tokayev to brief him on the situation in Russia. 

Tokayev noted the events are an "internal affair" of Russia and called for the resumption of law and order.  

10:43 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

Putin "has suffered a mortal blow," says retired US Army general

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suffered "a mortal blow," according to a retired US general, despite the apparent deal that will see Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin leave for Belarus.

"There are two existential fights going on in this Russia-Ukraine war," said retired US Army Brig. Gen. Peter Zwack.

"One is the viability of the survival, the existence, of a free-minded Ukrainian state. The other is inside the Kremlin and the viability of the Putin regime."

What (Prigozhin) has done is divided the Russians, got them squabbling publicly... This I believe is a mortal blow to Putin and his regime."

He called the events that unfolded on the streets of Russia over the past 36 hours "extraordinary," adding there is a "narrative getting out to the mainstream population that this invasion of Ukraine was wrong."

Zwack said: "And I think in this aspect, the information is that Russia's Putin's bodyguard of lies is collapsing as we watch."

10:08 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

What's next for Wagner fighters?

Major Mike Lyons speaks to CNN's Anderson Cooper on June 24.
Major Mike Lyons speaks to CNN's Anderson Cooper on June 24. CNN

A retired major in the the US Army said there are many questions to be asked about the future facing Wagner fighters after their short-lived uprising.

"They're an independent fighting company. They were given better rations. They dressed differently," said Major Mike Lyons (Ret.) US Army. 

"I don't think they'll be easily assimilated into the Russian military and sent back to the front there. So I think there is going to be an issue."

He added: "Maybe some will splinter off. Maybe some will decide to defect and provide information to Ukraine. Those people are loyal to the man, Prigozhin, not to the country, not to the mission. I think we've got a lot more questions that are not answered right now."

Earlier Saturday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wagner fighters will not face legal action for taking part in the march toward Moscow, saying that the Kremlin has "always respected their heroic deeds" on the front lines in Ukraine. 

10:09 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

US has not seen a change in Russia's nuclear posture during insurrection, two officials say

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

The United States has not seen a change to Russia's nuclear posture since Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin began his insurrection challenging the Kremlin's leadership, two US officials told CNN. 

"We have not seen any changes in the disposition of Russian nuclear forces," a State Department spokesperson said, adding that the US has "no reason to adjust our conventional or nuclear force posture. We have long-standing, established communication channels with Russia on nuclear issues."

President Putin has repeatedly engaged in nuclear saber-rattling over the course of the Ukraine war. Putin said earlier this month that the first tactical nuclear weapons to be stored in Belarus had arrived. US President Joe Biden called the move "absolutely irresponsible."

The US has continued to monitor Russia's nuclear posture throughout the Ukraine War despite Russia this year suspending participation in the single lasting nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia. This has meant that the two nations are no longer sharing certain notifications with one another which were required under the treaty, including updates on the status or location of treaty-accountable items such as missiles and launchers. 

"As a nuclear power, Russia has a special responsibility to maintain command, control, and custody of its nuclear forces and to ensure that no actions are taken that imperil strategic stability," the State Department spokesperson said. 

And as the US continues to monitor the situation in Russia the US diplomatic presence in the country has remain unchanged. 

“Our embassy in Moscow remains open, we are in regular communication with it, and its operating posture remains the same at this time,” the spokesperson said. 

10:09 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

"Bloodshed could have happened,” says Chechen leader Kadyrov

From CNN's Mariya Knight

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, condemned the actions of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in a Telegram post on Saturday, saying, “bloodshed could have happened." 

“Now everything ended peacefully, without bloodshed, but it could have happened," Kadyrov said.

Kadyrov added that "extreme measures" would have been needed to stop any Wagner rebellion requiring "harsh suppression and destruction of anyone who encroaches on the integrity of the Russian Federation.”

Condemning Prigozhin for his actions over the last 24 hours, Kadyrov said: “The arrogance of one person could lead to such dangerous consequences and draw a large number of people into the conflict,” he added. 

Kadyrov blamed Prigozhin for “mixing business ambitions with matters of national importance.” 

Some context: Chechen State media Grozny reported earlier Saturday that “3,000 fighters of elite units were sent from Chechnya, and they have been holding their positions since early morning ready to fulfill any order of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” 

10:10 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

"Putin doesn't forgive traitors," says former CNN Moscow bureau chief

Former CNN Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty speaks to CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Former CNN Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty speaks to CNN's Anderson Cooper. CNN

Russian President Vladimir Putin "doesn't forgive traitors," said former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty.

Even though Putin has told Prigozhin to go to Belarus, according to the Kremlin, the Wagner chief remains a "traitor," Dougherty told CNN's Anderson Cooper Saturday.

"I think Putin will never ever forgive that," she added. "I think it is a real dilemma because as long as Prigozhin is acting the way he does and has some type of support, he is a threat. Regardless of where he is."

Dougherty said the turmoil and chaos that transpired on the streets of Russia did not make Putin look like the strongman leader he has positioned himself to be.

"Putin himself looks really weak. If I were Putin, I would be worried about those people on the streets of Rostov cheering the Wagner people as they leave," she said.

"Why are average Russians on the street cheering people trying to carry our a coup? That means that maybe they support them but they might like them. Whatever it is, it is really bad news for Putin."

8:31 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

All restrictions on highways in Russia lifted 

From CNN’s Sahar Akbarzai and Josh Pennington

All restrictions on highways in Russia have been lifted, Russian state media TASS reported, citing a Sunday statement from Russia’s Federal Road Agency.  

On Saturday, Avtodor, the company that operates Russian highways, had advised drivers to avoid the M-4, a major highway in southern Russia, as reports swirled that convoys of Wagner fighters were using the road.

Earlier in the day, TASS reported that car traffic had been blocked on the M-4 highway past Rostov-on-Don towards Aksay.

7:37 p.m. ET, June 24, 2023

Canada's Trudeau closely monitoring security situation in Russia

From CNN’s Paula Newton

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference in Toronto on June 2.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference in Toronto on June 2. Carlos Osorio/Reuters/File

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened a group of key senior government officials Saturday to discuss the evolving internal security situation playing out in Russia, a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister reads.

The Incident Response Group “discussed ongoing coordination with international partners, and assessed the implications for Canadians and Canadian personnel,” the statement said.

Trudeau’s office continues to monitor the situation in Russia very closely and maintains contact with the country’s allies and partners, the statement added.