29th September, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with Andrei Troshev, the most senior former commander of the Wagner mercenary group and discussed 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 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.”
Putin also said that he wanted to speak about social support for those involved in the fighting.
The meeting took place in the Kremlin and was shown on state television.
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 Putin meeting appears to indicate that what remains of Wagner will now be overseen by Troshev and Yevkurov, who has travelled over recent months to several countries where the mercenaries work.
A decorated veteran of Russia’s wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya and a former commander in the SOBR interior ministry rapid reaction force, Troshev is from St Petersburg, Putin’s home town, and has been pictured with the president.
He was awarded Russia’s highest medal, Hero of Russia, in 2016 for the storming of Palmyra in Syria against Islamic State militants.