Only days after the uprising, Russian President Putin apparently met Wagner’s chief Prigozhin and several officers. They are said to have declared their willingness to continue fighting for their motherland.
The Kremlin confirmed reports of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin after his rebellion against the military leadership in June. “In fact, the president convened such a meeting, and invited 35 people to it – all the unit commanders and the company’s management, including Prigozhin himself,” the Interfax news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. Putin has previously called the Wagner rebels “traitors”.
Experts have been speculating for days about the future of Prigozhin and his Wagner band, which is also important to the Kremlin in Africa and the Middle East. According to Peskov, the debate lasted three hours and took place on 29 June—several days after Prigozhin’s failed revolt against the military leadership.
During the conversation, Putin gave his assessment of Wagner’s activities on the battlefield in Ukraine and during the June 24 Uprising. The Kremlin chief also listened to Wagner’s officers’ account of the uprising. They explained their version of events and asserted that they were loyal supporters and soldiers of the President and Commander-in-Chief. They are ready to continue to fight for their homeland.
Wagner’s mercenaries fight alongside the regular Russian army in Ukraine. Prigozhin has repeatedly harshly criticized the military leadership. On June 24, he accused her of ordering an attack on his forces and sent his fighters into Russia. However, Prigozhin cut short his mercenaries’ march to Moscow and agreed to go into exile with his fighters in Belarus. In contrast, they should not be prosecuted. However, many details of the agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are unclear. It appears that what has been revealed has not yet been fully implemented. Lukashenko announced on Thursday that Prigozhin is in St. Petersburg and that his mercenaries are still in their camps.
Russian Foreman performed publicly
Meanwhile, the Russian Chief of Staff, Valery Gerasimov, has made his first public appearance since Wagner’s mercenary revolution. The Defense Ministry has released a video that reportedly shows him meeting with top generals from the GRU, the military intelligence service, on Sunday. He is referred to in the clip as Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, which is his official position. Thus, the ministry proves that Gerasimov, who was harshly criticized by the mercenary chief Prigozhin, retained his position.
Prigozhin’s uprising on June 23-24 was aimed at deposing Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Unlike Shoigu and President Putin, nothing of Gerasimov has been seen or heard in public since the mutiny. This also applies to Sergei Surovikin, Gerasimov’s deputy as commander of the military operation in Ukraine and whose fate has so far left the Russian leadership open. Because of the senior generals’ absence from the public eye, rumors began to circulate about whether they had known in advance of the mercenary rebellion and what had happened to them. The 67-year-old Gerasimov is the third most powerful man in the Russian army after Putin and Shoigu.