Russian President Vladimir Putin was on Friday shown meeting one of the most senior former commanders of the Wagner mercenary group and discussing how best to use “volunteer units” in the Ukraine war.
The meeting underscored the Kremlin’s attempt to show that the state had now gained control over the mercenary group after a failed June mutiny by its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was then killed with other senior commanders in a plane crash in August.
Putin was shown on state television meeting at the Kremlin with Andrei Troshev, a former Wagner commander known by his nom de guerre “Sedoi” – or “grey hair”.
The Kremlin said the meeting took place late on Thursday. Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who has travelled over recent months to several countries where Wagner mercenaries have worked, was also present, sitting closest to Putin.
Addressing Troshev, Putin said that they had spoken about how “volunteer units that can perform various combat tasks, above all, of course, in the zone of the special military operation.”
“You yourself have been fighting in such a unit for more than a year,” Putin said. “You know what it is, how it is done, you know about the issues that need to be resolved in advance so that the combat work goes in the best and most successful way.”
Putin also said he wanted to speak about social support for those involved in the fighting.
Troshev was shown listening to Putin, leaning forward and nodding, pencil in hand. His remarks were not shown.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency that Troshev now worked at the defence ministry.
The fate of Wagner has been unclear since Prigozhin’s failed June 23 mutiny and his death on Aug. 23, after which Putin ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state, which Prigozhin and many of his men had opposed.
Russia’s Kommersant newspaper has reported that just days after the Wagner mutiny Putin had suggested that Troshev take over from Prigozhin.