The Russian president has appointed his hand-picked choice to take the late Prigozhin’s role, a former Wagner leader Putin says “has been their real commander all along,” in an apparent attempt to reinsert the mercenary group into its full-scale invasion but with tighter Kremlin control.
A few days after the failed June 23 uprising of the Wagner PMC (private military company), President Putin met with its leadership where he spelled out the options for its members. These included signing contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense as either part of the Russian Armed Forces or to join other “approved” PMCs. The other option, which a number chose, was to go to Belarus with Prigozhin or return to their families.
At that meeting Putin apparently suggested that Andrei Troshev, a retired colonel and Wagner director should take over the leadership. According to Russia’s Kommersant news agency, Putin offered them another option to continue to fight under Troshev.
Putin was quoted as saying: “They could have all gathered in one place and continued to serve, and nothing would have changed for them. They would be led by the same person who has been their real commander all along.”
This apparently caused a split between those in favor of Putin’s nominee and those who simply objected to any attempts by the Kremlin to directly interfere in the group’s autonomy.
Ukrainska Pravda Journalists Filming Trade Between Polish and Russian Farmers Held by Police at Polish Border
On Thursday, Putin held a meeting in the Kremlin to discuss plans on the establishment and tasking of volunteer units to take part in Ukraine. The meeting included Deputy Defense Minister, Colonel General Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Troshev.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency that Troshev now worked at the defense ministry.
Putin is quoted by the TASS news agency as saying to Troshev: “At our last meeting, we discussed a project for you to build units of military volunteers who will be able to perform various combat tasks, primarily in the special military operation zone.
“You yourself have been fighting in such a unit for more than a year,” Putin said. “You know what it is, how it is done, you know about the issues that need to be resolved in advance so that the combat work goes in the best and most successful way.”
Putin also said that he wanted to speak about social support for those involved in the fighting and their families.
The meeting and the appointment of Troshev is seen as an attempt by the Kremlin to show they have regained control over the PMC/mercenary groups that are now operating on behalf of the regime both in Ukraine and in the politically important and lucrative Africa deployments.
The appointment of Troshev comes as widespread reports, including one by the UK Ministry of Defence, that several hundred of Wagner mercenaries are returning to the war in Ukraine, either as members of the official Russian military forces or other private military companies.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 29 September 2023.— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) September 29, 2023
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These Wagner veterans are reported to be gathering around Bakhmut, which was seized by Wagner after months of brutal fighting but is in danger of being recaptured by Ukrainian forces.
Who is Troishev?
Andrey Nikolaevich Troshev was born in April 1962 [although some sources claim he was born in 1953], in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). He is a retired colonel and a former member of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs “special rapid response detachment.” He served and received medals for valor as a veteran of the Soviet-Afghan War, the Second Chechen War, and Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war.
Going by the codename Sedoi (Gray Hair) he is thought to be a founding member and Executive Director of the Wagner group, according to sanctions documents published by the European Union and France in December 2021.
The EU stated that “Andrei Troshev is directly involved in the military operations of the Wagner Group in Syria. He was particularly involved in the area of Deir ez-Zor, as such, he provides a crucial contribution to Bashar al-Assad’s war effort and therefore supports and benefits from the Syrian regime.”
United Kingdom sanctions, imposed from June 2022 said: “Andrei Nikolaevich Troshev was the Chief Executive of the Wagner Group.
"Therefore, he has supported the Syrian regime, was a member of a militia, and has repressed the civilian population in Syria.”
Ukraine imposed sanctions against Troshev on Feb. 26, 2023.
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