The mayor of Moscow has told residents not to travel around the city, with troops from the mutinous Wagner group now just hours away.
Sergei Sobyanin also said that Monday would be a non-working day for most and that the measures were needed to “minimise risks”.
He added that the situation was “difficult” and that a “counter-terrorist operation regime has been declared in Moscow”.
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s men are reportedly receiving a mixed reaction from Russians as they journey through the country to launch an assault on the capital after the leader of the mercenary group spoke out against the war in Ukraine.
Protections have been put in place around Moscow with the Wagner group reportedly around four hours from its boundaries as its soldiers look set to pose the biggest threat to the rule of Vladimir Putin so far.
Troops have also blocked off a motorway into the city while all mass outdoor events have been cancelled until July 1. Posters encouraging residents to join Wagner are being taken down.
Armed vehicles have also been filmed passing the Kremlin while it has been reported that the presidential plane has flown from Moscow to St Petersburg. Although the Kremlin denied Vladimir Putin had fled, saying he continued to work in the city.
Moscow residents have shared their fears of the impending potential conflict.
“It’s frightening, of course,” Muscovite Nikolai told the Mail Online. “You sit at home thinking about what might happen. It’s disturbing both for you and your loved ones.”
Another resident, Sergei, added: “I think everything will turn out fine, but if they’re preparing to bring in [anti-terror measures] then it means there’s a reason for that.”
Reuters reported that outside Moscow Russian media showed small groups of police manning machine gun positions on the southern outskirts.
A source close to the leadership in the Russian-held part of Ukraine’s Donetsk province said the convoy nearing Moscow had about 5,000 fighters, with a similar number in Rostov. Overall, Wagner has fewer than 25,000 men at its disposal, said the source.
The source said Wagner’s plan for Moscow was to take up positions in a densely built-up area.
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