President Vladimir Putin revealed that Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, has rejected an offer for his fighters to serve as a unit in the Russian army. The proposal, discussed during talks in Moscow, aimed to have the group led by a senior Wagner figure. As suggested by several group commanders present at the meeting.
The discussions took place shortly after Wagner’s failed mutiny on June 23-24. It challenged President Putin’s authority. As part of the resolution to the rebellion. The Wagner mercenaries were given the option to join the regular Russian army or relocate to Belarus, a close ally of Russia.
Wagner has been involved in some of the most intense battles since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. However, the US military currently assesses that the group is no longer significantly participating in combat operations in Ukraine.
According to Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder, most Wagner fighters are believed to still be present in areas of Russian-occupied Ukraine. Meanwhile, Belarus’ defence ministry announced that Wagner fighters are now serving as military instructors for the country’s territorial defence forces. Providing training in various military disciplines near the town of Osipovichi.
Putin offered “employment options”
During the interview with Kommersant, President Putin stated that 35 Wagner commanders, including Prigozhin, attended a meeting at the Kremlin on June 29. Putin offered them several employment options. Including the possibility of continuing their service under the leadership of a senior Wagner commander known by the name “Sedoi” or “Grey Hair.”
While many Wagner fighters showed agreement with this proposal. But Prigozhin was unaware of their response. He expressed that the fighters did not agree with the decision. In response to a question about the future of the Wagner group, President Putin mentioned that Wagner “does not exist.” Pointing out that there is no law governing private military organizations.
As the situation surrounding Wagner and its fighters continued to evolve, the rejection of the offer to integrate the group into the Russian army. That raises questions about their future role and their impact on ongoing conflicts in the region.