Putin Held 3-Hour Meeting With Wagner Chief Days After Revolt

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Jul 10, 2023 - 01:20 PM

Russian officials have revealed another plot twist, adding further mystery to the already bizarre Wagner uprising and the fate of its founder and chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. The news also underscores that things will likely move on as 'normal' with Wagner leadership receiving a small slap on the wrist. 

The Kremlin said on Monday that President Vladimir Putin actually met with Prigozhin just days after the short-lived mutiny which resulted in over a dozen Russian troop deaths after Wagner mercenaries shot down military helicopters.

After the so-called "march on Moscow" by armed convoys of Wagner forces amid angry denunciations of rampant corruption in the army command ranks on June 24, Russia quickly announced a ceasefire deal had been reached with the mediation of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. This included an agreement for Prigozhin to depart Russia, entering de facto exile in neighboring Belarus.

But it seems before or during (or even after) that process of the Wagner chief relocating to Minsk (via his private jet), he and Putin had a nearly three-hour long meeting at the Kremlin. This involved PMC Wagner's commanding officers, according to the fresh Kremlin statement. 

TASS presents the details based on the description of presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov as follows:

"The president did hold such a meeting," Peskov began. "He invited 35 people - all the squad commanders and the leadership of the [private military] company, including Prigozhin," he said. "The meeting took place in the Kremlin on June 29 and lasted for nearly three hours."

"We are unaware of the details (of the meeting - TASS), but the one thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of the [private military] company’s actions on the frontline during the special military operation and the June 24 events," Peskov noted.

"Putin listened to explanations from [Wagner] commanders and offered them further options for employment and further use in combat," the presidential spokesman continued.

It appears to have been a sympathetic 'clearing of the air' type of meeting, which makes evident that Putin isn't quite finished with utilizing Wagner Group as an effective military forces. Peskov's statement continued

"The commanders themselves shared their version of what happened [on June 24], they emphasized that they are staunch supporters and soldiers of the head of state and the supreme commander-in-chief, and also said that they are ready to continue fighting for the Fatherland."

"This is all we can say about this meeting," he added.

That meeting took place less than a week after the chaotic weekend events, and days after Putin blasted the mercenary group's leadership which "organized and prepared the armed rebellion" for treason, and charging that they "betrayed Russia."

All of this strongly suggests Wagner will be "back" on the Ukraine battlefield soon enough. It's possible or even likely that the bulk of Wagner units never even left frontline regions in Ukraine, apart from the thousands which had controlled locations in Rostov during the brief uprising. This is the key detail which US intelligence and NATO will be closely monitoring--that Putin "offered them further options for employment and further combat use," according to Peskov's words in TASS.

Starting last week President Lukashenko had said that Prigozhin was back in Russia. The Monday revelation from the Kremlin provides some confirmation of this. From the start of the mutiny Prigozhin had claimed he wasn't trying to overthrow Putin or the Russian government, but instead desired to root out military leadership, citing corruption and ineptitude, among other longstanding complaints. 

Part of the Belarusian-mediated peace deal which ended the uprising was for Wagner fighters to be offered contracts with the national armed forces, or to be relocated to Belarus. The possibility of large Wagner encampments inside Belarus has made neighbors like Poland very nervous, and Warsaw has moved to strengthen its border.