Tension between Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner private militia group, and the nation’s defense establishment exploded in dramatic fashion on Friday. The mercenary chief vowed to punish Russian military leaders, saying Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had orchestrated a missile attack that killed "huge” numbers of his fighters. The Kremlin responded swiftly, denying the attack and accusing Prigozhin of mutiny.

The internal conflict is the biggest test of President Vladimir Putin’s authority since he sent troops into Ukraine 16 months ago. In a short televised address to the nation on Saturday, Putin denounced the rebellion by Wagner forces and its leader as "treason” and promised harsh punishment.

Here’s what you need to know about the Wagner Group, its role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and why its leader is accused of mutiny.