The chief of the rebel Wagner mercenary force will go to Belarus and will not face charges after calling off his troops' advance on Moscow, the Russian government said, de-escalating a major challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power.

The feud between Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russia's military brass came to a head in the past day, with his forces capturing a key army headquarters in southern Russia on Saturday and then heading north to threaten the capital.

Within hours of Prigozhin's about-face, the Kremlin announced he would leave for Belarus and Russia would not prosecute him or Wagner's members.