The Kremlin has begun to take full control of the private Russian Wagner Empire, built by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, in the hours after Wagner halted the advance of its soldiers towards the capital, Moscow, after an armed rebellion, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The report quoted diplomats, intelligence officers, dissidents from Wagner, and people familiar with the talks and reviewing flight data, that the Kremlin’s rapid launch of complete control comes as an attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to downplay the chaos that is taking place in his country, and reassure Russia’s partners in Africa, and the Middle East that Wagner’s operations there will continue without interruption.
According to the report, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin traveled to Damascus at the end of the week personally deliver a message to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, stating that Wagner group forces won’t operate there independently.
It quoted a person familiar with the talks as saying that Vershinin had urged Assad to prevent Wagner fighters from leaving Syria without Moscow’s supervision.
Two informed sources said that the Wagner fighters, who operated largely independently in Syria, received orders on Tuesday to go to an air base run by the Russian Ministry of Defense in the coastal city of Latakia, and that they complied with the orders.
Similarly, senior officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry also contacted the President of the Central African Republic, whose bodyguards include Wagner elements, and gave assurances that the crisis, on Saturday, June 24, wouldn’t impede Russia’s expansion in Africa, while government planes belonging to the Ministry of Emergencies moved The Russian Federation from Syria to Mali, which is another of the main overseas locations of the Wagner Group.