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Putin and top Wagner commander Troshev discuss Ukraine war (Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Andrei Troshev, a former commander of the Wagner mercenary group, to discuss the use of “volunteer units” in the Ukraine war. The meeting aimed to demonstrate that the Kremlin now has control over the mercenary group following a failed mutiny by its boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a plane crash alongside other senior commanders. Putin emphasized the importance of “volunteer units” that can perform various combat tasks in the special military operation zone. Troshev, who has firsthand experience in fighting with such units, was shown listening attentively to Putin’s remarks.

The fate of Wagner has been uncertain since Prigozhin’s mutiny and subsequent death. However, the meeting suggests that Troshev, along with Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, will now oversee what remains of the group. Wagner, previously consisting of thousands of fighters, gained notoriety for its capture of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in a fierce battle. Following the fall of Bakhmut, Wagner units withdrew from Ukraine. Some members of the group have joined the formal Russian army, while others have joined different private military companies. British military intelligence has noted that a significant number of Wagner fighters have likely been redeployed to Ukraine as part of various units, although their exact status is unclear.

Troshev, a decorated veteran of Russia’s wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, is from Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg. He has been seen in photos with the president and was awarded the Hero of Russia medal in 2016 for his role in the storming of Palmyra against ISIS militants in Syria.

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