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British intel: Kremlin turns to Wagner mercenary veterans to bolster war effort

Putin’s meeting with Troshev, who contributed to the Wagner’s insurrection in June, and Yevkurov, pictured touring African states, indicates Russia continues utilization of Wagner veterans as they can “demonstrate their loyalty to the state and maintain involvement in the Global South.”
Putin recruits former Wagner chief to lead new volunteer battalions in Ukraine
Putin recruits former Wagner chief to lead new volunteer battalions in Ukraine, Photo: Kremlin.ru
British intel: Kremlin turns to Wagner mercenary veterans to bolster war effort

On 29 September 2023, Russian President Putin met with former Wagner Group Chief of Staff Andrei Troshev, tasking him with overseeing and establishing new ‘volunteer fighting units,’ the UK Defense Ministry reported in its intelligence update.

According to the UK intel, Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was also at the meeting.

The ministry tweeted:

  • “Around the time of the June 2023 insurrection, Troshev took up a role in the official security forces: Troshev was probably involved in encouraging other Wagner personnel to sign contracts, contributing to the insurrection. Many Wagner veterans likely consider him a traitor.

  • Yevkurov has recently been pictured touring African states. Presidential endorsement of Troshev and Yevkurov indicates Russia’s continuing utilisation of Wagner. It is prepared to draw on the experience of veterans who can demonstrate their loyalty to the state and continued involvement in the Global South, but probably with greater oversight from the Kremlin.”

On 29 September, the UK Defense Ministry revealed that many Wagner mercenaries are returning to Ukraine’s frontlines, integrating into other volunteer units. The estimated count currently stands at several hundred individuals.

“Several reports suggest a concentration of Wagner veterans around Bakhmut: their experience is likely to be particularly in demand in this sector. Many will be familiar with current front line and local Ukrainian tactics, having fought over the same terrain last winter,” the UK Ministry of Defense noted on social media.

In early summer 2023, the Wagner Group halted active participation in the war in Ukraine due to a dispute between its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the Russian Ministry of Defense. On 23 June 2023, Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin accused the Russian MoD of striking a Wagner camp and announced a “march for justice,” vowing to “stop” Moscow’s top military leadership. 24 June 2023, Prigozhin attempted an unsuccessful mutiny against Moscow. Late on 24 June, Prigozhin announced that he ordered his forces to return to their field camps, as they were only 200 kilometers away from Moscow.

On 23 August 2023, Prigozhin died in an aviation accident. US President Joe Biden has suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have been behind a plane crash near Moscow. Later in August, Russia rejected the Brazilian request to investigate the Prigozhin plane crash.

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