- Putin meets former Supreme Commander Wagner
- Putin praised Petrushev and described him as a potential leader
- Kremlin: Troshev works in the Ministry of Defense
- Putin talks about volunteer units fighting in Ukraine
- British Army: Wagner fighters likely to redeploy
MOSCOW, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin was shown on Friday meeting with a former top commander of the Wagner mercenary group and discussing how best to use “volunteer units” in the war in Ukraine.
The meeting highlighted the Kremlin’s attempt to show that the state has now taken control of the mercenary group following the failed rebellion in June by its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed along with other senior commanders in a plane crash in August.
Putin was shown on state television meeting in the Kremlin with Andrei Troshev, a former Wagner conductor known by his nom de guerre “Sidoy” – or “gray-haired”.
The Kremlin said the meeting took place late Thursday. Deputy Defense Minister Yunusbek Yevkurov, who traveled in recent months to several countries where Wagner mercenaries operate, was also present, and he is the closest to Putin.
Addressing Troshev, Putin said that they talked about how “volunteer units can perform various combat missions, first of all, of course, in the zone of special military operation.”
“You yourself have been fighting in such a unit for more than a year,” Putin said. “You know what it is and how it is done, and you know what issues must be resolved in advance so that hostilities proceed in the best and most successful way.”
Putin also said he wanted to talk about social support for those involved in the fighting.
Troshev appeared listening to Putin, leaning forward and nodding, holding a pencil in his hand. His statements did not appear.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA that Troshev now works in the Ministry of Defense.
Wagner’s fate has been unclear since Prigozhin’s failed rebellion on June 23 and his death on August 23, after which Putin ordered Wagner’s fighters to sign an oath of loyalty to the Russian state, which Prigozhin and many of his men opposed.
Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that a few days after the Wagner mutiny, Putin suggested that Troshev take over as Prigozhin’s successor.
Putin’s meeting in the Kremlin seems to indicate that what remains of Wagner will now be overseen by Troshev and Yevkurov.
The Wagner Group, once made up of tens of thousands of men, is best known for its capture of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in May in the bloodiest battle of the war. After the fall of Bakhmut, Wagner units withdrew from Ukraine.
Russian sources told Reuters that some Wagner fighters had registered to serve in the official Russian army, while many others had moved to various private military companies.
British military intelligence said up to hundreds of fighters previously linked to Wagner had likely begun redeploying to Ukraine as part of a variety of different units.
British Military Intelligence said: “The exact status of the redeployment personnel is unclear, but it is likely that the individuals have transferred to parts of the official Russian Ministry of Defense forces and other private military companies.”
Troshev, a decorated veteran of Russia’s wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya and a former commander of the Interior Ministry’s SOBR rapid reaction force, is from St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, and was photographed with the president.
He was awarded Russia’s highest award, “Hero of Russia,” in 2016 for storming the city of Palmyra in Syria against ISIS fighters.
Reuters report; Edited by Guy Faulconbridge
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