President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia held a lengthy meeting with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin and his top commanders from the private military company Wagner just five days after the group launched an insurgency that threatened the Russian leader’s authority, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S Peskov. monday
Mr. Putin invited 35 people to the three-hour meeting, including top Wagner commanders and the group’s leader, Mr. Prigozhin, on June 29, the Kremlin spokesman said. Just days earlier, the mercenaries captured a southern Russian city and a major Russian military headquarters, and began a short-lived march on Moscow, seeking the removal of the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry.
In the days that followed, the status of Mr. Prigozhin, the Wagner group and its fighters were shrouded in mystery. Despite the announcement of a deal in which Mr. Prigozhin called off the rebellion and would go to Belarus, he remained in Russia, according to Russian news reports and the Belarusian president. Mr. Prigozhin has not been seen in public since June 24, the day of the uprising.
Mr Peskov described the details of the meeting as “unknown”, raising further questions about Wagner’s future.
“The only thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of the company’s actions” during the war in Ukraine and the uprising, Mr. Peskov said. “Putin heard the commanders and offered more employment options and more combat options.”
The commanders shared their version of events with Mr. Putin, Mr. Peskov said, and pledged their loyalty to the Russian president. Mr Prigozhin has previously claimed that the brief uprising was a stand against Russia’s military leadership, not Mr Putin or his government.
“They emphasized that they are ardent supporters and soldiers of the head of state and commander-in-chief – and also said that they are ready to fight for the country going forward,” Mr. Peskov said.