Putin Secretly Invited Prigozhin to the Kremlin 5 Days After Mutiny

Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik via Reuters
Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a bizarre meeting with the mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin who staged an armed rebellion against him, a Kremlin spokesperson confirmed Monday.

The meeting took place on June 29 in the Kremlin just five days after Prigozhin launched the most serious challenge to Putin’s authority the country has seen since his rise to power in 1999. Putin invited a total of 35 people to the three-hour meeting which is the first confirmed contact between the president and Prigozhin in the wake of the uprising.

Photos Leak of Russia’s Mercenary Boss in Ridiculous Disguises

“The only thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of [Wagner’s] actions at the front during the Special Military Operation [in Ukraine] and also gave his assessment of the events of 24 June,” Kremlin spokesman Peskov told reporters, referring to the day of the rebellion.

He added that Putin listened to the accounts of Wagner unit commanders about what had taken place during the mutiny and offered them options for combat and employment. The commanders “emphasized that they are staunch supporters and soldiers of the head of state and the supreme commander-in-chief,” Peskov said. “They also said that they are ready to continue fighting for the Motherland.”

When asked if officials from Russia’s Defense Ministry were in the meeting, Peskov said he “had nothing more to say” on the matter, according to a report in RIA Novosti.

On June 24, Wagner mercenaries seized control of the Russian military headquarters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don after Prigozhin accused Moscow’s forces of killing his troops. As the crisis escalated, Putin accused the mercenaries of treason and ordered the paramilitaries to either leave Russia for Belarus or join up with Russia’s Defense Ministry.

For his own part, Prigozhin insisted his actions were not intended to instigate regime change in Russia, but were instead an attempt at “bringing to justice” senior military commanders for what he deemed mistakes during the war in Ukraine.

An agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ultimately ended the stand-off. The terms of the deal stipulated that Prigozhin would go to Belarus but Lukashenko last week said that Prigozhin was in Russia, and another Belarusian official said Wagner fighters had not visited a camp in Belarus offered to them for relocation. Peskov on Friday declined to comment on whether Prigozhin has reneged on the deal.

The warlord’s status in Russia is now unclear. A criminal case had been opened against Prigozhin over the armed rebellion, but the Federal Security Service (FSB) later said the investigation had been curtailed because “the participants in the rebellion stopped their actions directly aimed at committing a crime.”

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