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ISW: Putin wants to keep Wagner fighters, cut Prigozhin

by Abbey Fenbert July 15, 2023 7:20 AM 1 min read
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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin hopes to keep the Wagner mercenary forces together under a new commander and cut the group's ties to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Institute for the Study of War wrote on July 14.

In a July 13 interview, Putin told Russian news outlet Kommersant that he offered Wagner soldiers the opportunity to fight under a different commander in a meeting held June 29. Putin claimed that this meeting included Prigozhin and 35 other Wagner commanders.

Putin said he gave the private military company the choice of serving under a commander who has led Wagner troops for the past 16 months and uses the callsign "Seda."

In Putin's account, the 35 commanders nodded their agreement at this offer, while Prigozhin did not agree and did not see the other officers nod.

Putin's remarks correspond with the ISW's assessment that the Kremlin wishes to keep the Wagner forces cohesive and simply oust Prigozhin, rather than break up the Wagner Group or cut ties with the mercenary company altogether.

In the interview, Putin repeated "the absurd notion" that private mercenary groups are not active in Russia, the ISW wrote.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian government today announced its official cooperation with the Wagner Group, who have begun conducting trainings with Belarusian soldiers.

Russia after Wagner revolt: Will Putin stay afloat or face more turmoil?
The rebellion organized by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group in June is seen by many analysts as a sign of weakness and fragility of Vladimir Putin’s regime. First, several thousand armed mercenaries managed to march for hundreds of kilometers from Rostov to the vicinity of Moscow, and no one
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