A video was released on Monday, June 26 by the Russian defense ministry, which claims to show Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu visiting the western sector of Moscow’s special military operation. The video showed Shoigu flying in a plane with an unidentified colleague and being briefed by Colonel-General Nikiforov in Russia’s Zapad (West) military grouping’s command post.
In its commentary on the video, Russia’s Zvezda Defense Ministry TV Channel said Shoigu, who looked physically unharmed and calm.
It said “he had heard about the formation of new reserve forces for the ‘Zapad’ military grouping and had noted the Russian army’s high efficiency at detecting and destroying enemy military equipment and accumulations of personnel in tactical areas.
“He had tasked them with continuing active reconnaissance in order to reveal the enemy’s plans to thwart Ukrainian forces’ movements far behind the frontlines.”
Zvezda said Shoigu had paid particular attention to what it called “the organization of all-round support for the troops involved in the Special Military Operation and the creation of conditions for the safe housing of personnel.”
Shoigu, among others high up in Moscow’s current regime, including Gerasimov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has not commented on Prigozhin's rebellion.
The video has no sound and gives no indication of where or when it was filmed. The timing of its release is assessed by commentators as a visible signal by the Kremlin that, not only does Shoigu retain Putin’s confidence but also as a statement that Prigozhin’s mutiny has failed in one of its stated aims: to remove the Minister as well as Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff.
When asked about Shoigu’s future on Sunday, June 25, the Kremlin spokesperson said the question of personnel changes was the sole prerogative of President Vladimir Putin and could hardly have been part of any deal.
Prigozhin supported by a claimed 25,000 fighters advanced towards Moscow on Saturday, June 24 to remove what they called Russia’s corrupt and incompetent military leadership. It was suddenly called off and the force, which was closer to 8,000 strong, headed back to Russian-held areas in eastern Ukraine after a deal with the Kremlin was supposedly brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
The deal, as publicly announced by the Kremlin, would see criminal charges against the mutineers dropped in exchange for their return to Ukraine while Prigozhin will relocate to Belarus.
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