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Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a rare visit to the military headquarters in Rostov on Aug. 19, which was briefly seized during the Wagner rebellion, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence report on Aug. 24.
The Kremlin's leader met with Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov and other officers in charge of the Russian war against Ukraine, the report added.
According to the analysis, Putin likely visited Rostov, lying 160 kilometers from the front line, to "project his authority," as the regional center was shortly held by Yevgeny Prigozhin's Wagner Group during their uprising in late June.
Following the capture of the southern city, the warlord's contractors marched toward Moscow only to abruptly end their rebellion less than 24 hours before it began. "Putin's chef" was allowed to walk free after an undisclosed deal allegedly brokered by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
Prigozhin is presumed dead in a deadly crash of his business jet in Russia's Tver Oblast on Aug. 23. Based on a list published by the Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya), the oligarch was among the 10 passengers who lost their lives in the incident.
According to the Institute for the Study of War, Putin "almost certainly ordered the Russian military command to shoot down Prigozhin's plane." The warlord's death is yet to be confirmed by official sources.