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Putin Declares Punishment for Violation of Martial Law, Presidential Plane Seen Fleeing Moscow

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Over the past 24 hours, things have taken a rather insane turn regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the most recent reports from Moscow suggest the situation is very serious.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been conducting his military’s attack on Ukraine for the past year. But now, he has to face a serious threat from within his own ranks.

On Friday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, commander of the mercenary force the Wagner Group, which had been fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine, declared an armed rebellion against the Russian Ministry of Defense and began a march on Moscow.

Since then, soldiers from the Wagner Group have taken control of the Russian military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don and are continuing their advance toward the capital.

Now, there are more developments from the Kremlin that suggest that the situation is rather dire for Putin’s government.

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On Saturday morning, reports emerged on Twitter from a Ukrainian official and Eastern European media that Putin has declared martial law in response to the unrest and signed a law placing fines and arrests of up to 30 days on those who violate martial law.

Meanwhile, Insider has reported that the presidential plane was seen leaving Moscow, although the Kremlin denies reports that Putin has fled, and is instead still in the capital working with officials.

Is there a coup underway in Russia?

It seems that after 16 months of heavy fighting, the war in Ukraine might be coming to a real turning point.

It is too early to say whether this move by the Wagner Group will effect a real change in Putin’s war policy or even a change in the Russian government, but the laws concerning martial law and the speculation that he has fled Moscow suggest that it is a serious situation.

Of course, it is completely possible that this rebellion is an orchestration of Putin’s inner circle, or even of Putin himself, to present a certain image to the West in order to justify a crackdown on political dissent.

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After all, states like Russia are well-known for using cleverly crafted scenes like this in order to justify government policies that rile many people in the West.

Nonetheless, regardless of the reason behind this apparent rebellion, it is clear that what is happening in Russia has the potential to be a watershed moment in the war in Ukraine.

Either this is the beginning of the end for Putin’s war effort and even his government, or it will be used by Putin as justification to expand his iron grip on Russia even more and pursue his war aims with even more vigor.

It is entirely possible that the effects of the past few days could have massive ripple effects that will change the entire shape of Russia and Eastern Europe.

Something big is happening in Russia right now, and it is important for the West to take note.

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Peter Partoll is a commentary writer for the Western Journal and a Research Assistant for the Catholic Herald. He earned his bachelor's degree at Hillsdale College and recently finished up his masters degree at Royal Holloway University of London. You can follow him on Twitter at @p_partoll.




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