Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed the mercenary general Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Kremlin a few days after the official led a brief rebellion, a senior government spokesman said on Monday, the latest twist in a disturbing series of events that have raised questions about the power and influence both men wield.
The three-hour meeting took place on June 29 and also involved senior officers of the Prigozhin Wagner Group, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Putin assessed Wagner’s actions on the battlefield in Ukraine – where soldiers fought alongside Russian troops – and the rebellion itself. Wagner’s army pledged loyalty to Putin, according to Peskov.
Confirmation that Putin met face to face with Prigozhin, himself led the army on the march to Moscow last month to demand a change in the Minister of Defense, it was surprising. Although Putin labeled Prigozhin as a traitor during the riots, the case against the mercenary commander was dropped and his fate remains unknown.
Adding to the strange nature of the meeting was the fact that until recently, Putin denied any connection between the government and Prigozhin’s army. Although the Russian military is banned in Russia, Wagner’s military fought for Russian interests around the world and was instrumental in the coup. Bakhmut in the longest and bloodiest war.
But throughout the war, Prigozhin criticized the decisions made by the Russian military elite, which led to a conflict with the Kremlin that culminated on June 24 in an armed coup led by Russian fighters.
Rebellion very weak Putin’s regime, although Prigozhin said that the attack was not only aimed at the president but to remove the minister of defense Sergei Shoigu and the army chief. Gen. Valery Gerasimov. Prigozhin ended his rebellion after the agreement to go to Belarus.
Ministry of Defense of Russia published a video and Gerasimov on Monday – the first time he appeared since the rebellion.
The twin reforms were seen as another attempt by the Kremlin to show that it is in control during a difficult period. But there are many questions, including about the agreement that ended Prigozhin’s rebellion.
A few days after the uprising, the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said Prigozhin he was in Belarus. But last week the president said he was a mercenary officer he was in Russia while his soldiers remained in their camps.
Peskov said that during the June 29 meeting, Putin gave an “evaluation” of Wagner’s actions on the battlefield in Ukraine and “of what happened on June 24.” The president also “listened to the instructions of the government officials and gave them the opportunity to use them again in the war,” the Kremlin said.
“The leaders presented what happened. They insisted that they are supporters and soldiers of the head of state and the commander of the army, and they also said that they are ready to continue fighting for their country,” said Peskov.
35 people took part in the meeting, Peskov said.
Meanwhile, a Russian plane in a school in southern Ukraine killed four adults as people gathered to receive help, the governor of Ukraine. Zaporizhzhia region he said on Monday, calling the attack a “war crime.”
Three women and a man, who are in their 40s, died on Sunday in the town of Orikhiv, governor Yuriy Malashko said.
An aerial bomb caused the explosion at the school, Malashko said, without providing evidence. Eleven other people were injured in the attack, he said.
In total, Russia shelled 10 areas in the region in one day, he said.
Moscow denies that it wants civilian land. Russia has been repeatedly accused of these and other military atrocities since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued a verdict arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in war crimes, accusing him of their duty child abduction in Ukraine.
Investigations it is also happening in Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The International Center for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine, which is located in The Hague, is helping with the investigation.
Zaporizhzhia region is his home Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which Russian troops seized at the beginning of the war, and is one of four regions of Ukraine illegally annexed by Putin last year. Retaking the region is one of the goals of the Ukrainian military.
Russian airstrikes continued in Ukraine between Sunday and Monday, according to a summary of the office of the President of Ukraine.
In the eastern Donetsk region, the Russians used aircraft, artillery and heavy weapons to attack residential areas in 6 cities and villages, injuring one person, the office said.
The Russian army attacked a settlement in Kherson, the capital of the province of the same name. A 66-year-old woman was injured, the president’s office said.