Putin says he tried but failed to oust Prigozhin after Wagner mutiny

Putin says he tried but failed to oust Prigozhin after Wagner mutiny

The Guardian reports:

Vladimir Putin has said that he sought and failed to have Yevgeny Prigozhin replaced as the leader of Wagner’s fighters in Ukraine after the mercenary chief rebuffed his proposal during a meeting at the Kremlin this month.

Putin’s version of events, which appeared in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper, was a surprise admission that the Russian president was still negotiating a takeover of the Wagner mercenary group.

Analysts have suggested that last month’s short-lived Wagner rebellion exposed Putin’s weakness and inability to manage the conflicts among the various power players in his regime.

On Friday, Belarusian state media broadcast footage it said showed that Wagner instructors had begun to arrive in Belarus as part of an exile deal reached with the Kremlin after the aborted mutiny.

Putin told the columnist Andrei Kolesnikov that he met Prigozhin and 35 Wagner commanders at the Kremlin after the mutiny and sought to negotiate terms for the mercenary group’s continued participation in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

During the meeting, Putin said he offered Prigozhin the option to allow Wagner fighters to continue to serve in Ukraine under the leadership of their battlefield commander, Andrey Trochev.

“All of them could gather in one place and continue to serve,” Putin told Kolesnikov, who has covered the Kremlin leader for several decades. “And nothing would change for them. They would be led by the same person who had been their actual commander this entire time.”

The offer met with some support from the Wagner commanders, Putin said. “A lot of them nodded their heads when I said this. But Prigozhin, who was sitting in front of them and didn’t see [their reaction], said: ‘No, the guys won’t agree with that decision.’”

The interview appears to be part of a broader effort by the Kremlin to win the loyalty of the Wagner rank and file, even while seeking to discredit Prigozhin by leaking sensitive and embarrassing information about him. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.