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 Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed with other senior commanders in a plane crash in August.
Just days after the Wagner’s mutiny, Putin offered the mercenaries the opportunity to keep fighting but suggested that commander Andrei Troshev take over from Prigozhin, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper has reported.
The Kremlin said that Putin had met with Troshev, who is known by his nom de guerre “Sedoi” – or “grey hair” – and Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who sat closest to Putin, on Thursday night.
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.