Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on Friday in a meeting with Andrei Troshev, one of the most prominent former commanders of the Wagner Special Military Group, and they discussed the possibility of volunteer units participating in the Ukraine war.
The meeting highlights the Kremlin’s push to show that the state is now in control of the mercenary group after its unfinished rebellion in June led by its president, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash in August along with other senior leaders of the group.
Putin appeared on state television during a meeting in the Kremlin with Troshev, known by the nom de guerre (Sidoy), or Gray Hair.
The Kremlin said that the meeting was held late Thursday evening.
The meeting was also attended by Deputy Defense Minister Yunusbek Yevkurov, who sat in the location closest to Putin.
During the past few months, Yevkurov traveled to several countries where the Wagner Group worked.
Putin said they talked about how volunteer units carry out various combat missions, especially in the special military operation zone, of course.
Addressing Troshev, Putin added, “You yourself have been fighting in one of these units for more than a year… You know what the matter is and how it’s done, and you know the problems that must be solved urgently so that hostilities proceed in the best and most successful way”.
Putin also said he wanted to discuss social welfare for those involved in the fighting.
The footage showed Troshev listening to Putin, leaning forward and nodding with a pen in his hand, but the notes he took weren’t shown.
Wagner’s fate hasn’t been clear since the failed rebellion on June 23, and later Prigozhin and his subsequent died on August 23 in plane crash.
Putin had ordered the Wagner fighters to sign an oath of loyalty to the Russian state, and Prigozhin said at the time that many of his men opposed this.
According to Russian Kommersant newspaper reported that a few days after the Wagner mutiny, Putin offered its fighters to continue fighting but suggested that Commander Troshev take over as Prigozhin’s successor.
Putin’s meeting in the Kremlin seemed to indicate that those remaining at Wagner would come under the supervision of Troshev and Yevkurov.
Wagner, which at one time included tens of thousands of men in its ranks, became famous when it was able in May to take control of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in the bloodiest battle of the war.
After taking control of Bakhmut, Wagner units withdrew from Ukraine.
Russian sources told Reuters that some Wagner fighters joined the ranks of the official Russian army, while others moved to work for other private military companies.
British military intelligence said that up to hundreds of fighters previously linked to Wagner had already begun redeploying to Ukraine under a range of different units.
The specific situation of the redeployment of personnel isn’t clear, but it’s likely that individuals have moved to sectors of the official forces of the Russian Ministry of Defense and other private military companies.
Troshev is a veteran and received high medals for his participation in Russia’s wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
He is a former commander in the Rapid Intervention Force of the Ministry of the Interior, and his hometown is St. Petersburg.
He was awarded the country’s highest award, the Hero of Russia Medal, in 2016 for storming the city of Palmyra in Syria to fight ISIS fighters.