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EU Countries Bordering Russia on Alert After Mutiny Against Moscow

EU countries bordering Russia were on alert Saturday, with some beefing up their border security, after the Wagner paramilitary group seized control of a strategic Russian city and threatened to move on Moscow.

The insurrection by the mercenary group came after its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin declared war on Moscow’s defense ministry in the early hours of Saturday morning, claiming Kremlin officials had killed thousands of his soldiers. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the move “treason” and vowed to “neutralize” the threat in a televised address.

Estonia and Latvia have stepped up their border security in response, according to the countries’ governments, while Latvia suspended visa applications and entry to the country from Russia.

“Visa or border entry [for] Russians leaving Russia due to current events won’t be considered,” Latvian Foreign Minister and incoming President Edgars Rinkēvičs wrote on Twitter. He added that there was “no direct threat to Latvia at this time.”

“Border security has been strengthened,” said Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. “I also urge our people not to travel to any part of Russia.” She also insisted there was “no direct threat” from the rebellion in Russia. The Estonian leader said she was in “close touch” with her Latvian, Lithuanian and Finnish counterparts about the mutiny.

The Prime Minister of Finland, Petteri Orpo, also confirmed he had spoken to Estonia and Latvia’s leaders by phone about the unfolding events. “We agreed on close cooperation,” he wrote in a tweet.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said he had held consultations Saturday morning with the country’s prime minister and defense ministry in response to the Russian crisis. “The course of events beyond our eastern border is monitored on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas told local media he was “monitoring the situation” but that no additional action was being taken for now.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, meanwhile, said Ukraine’s allies are focused on achieving victory against Russia amid the chaos of the Wagner Group rebellion.

“For 100 years, Lithuanians have lived on the edge of Moscow’s brutal banditocracy, knowing it’s only a matter of time before the next chaotic implosion,” Landsbergis said in a tweet. “We are not distracted. We see clearly in the chaos,” he added.

“The goal, as ever, is victory and justice for Ukraine. The time is now,” Landsbergis said.