- Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin was this week pictured in a meeting with Andrei Troshev, formerly a senior commander of the Wagner mercenary group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin until his death in a plane crash earlier this year.1
- According to a Kremlin statement on the meeting released on Friday, Putin was quoted as telling Troshev: 'At the last meeting we talked about you overseeing the formation of volunteer units that can carry out various tasks, first and foremost of course in the zone of the special military operation,' — Russia's preferred way of referring to its war in Ukraine.2
- 'You yourself fought in such a unit for more than a year,' Putin added. 'You know what it is, how it’s done, you know about the issues that need to be resolved in advance so that combat work goes on in the best and most successful way.'3
- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency that Troshev — also known by his alias Sedoi, meaning 'gray-haired' — 'now works in the defence ministry.' He is a veteran of Russia's wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya and was awarded the Hero of Russia Award for his role in supporting government forces in Syria as a Wagner commander.4
- The move to incorporate him back into Russia's defense ministry comes after Putin suggested that he could lead the Wagner group back in July, shortly after Prigozhin led a failed uprising. Wagner fighters were offered a choice of exile in Belarus or to sign contracts with the Russian defense ministry.5
- Earlier this week, Colonel Serhiy Cherevatyi, a Ukrainian military official, suggested that hundreds of Wagner fighters have been observed fighting again in Russia's military on the front lines of Ukraine.6
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Reuters. Putin's meeting with Troshev underscores how the Kremlin was attempting to show how the state has now taken control of the Wagner mercenary group after its failed rebellion — one of the biggest threats to Putin's leadership in over two decades of power.
- Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by Tass. Putin's meeting with Troshev is a demonstration of the leader's pragmatism in dealing with problems. On this occasion, he wanted to put a capable leader in charge in order to continue putting these experienced fighters to good use in the war against Ukraine.