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Mercenary Chief Prigozhin Pledges Loyalty to Putin


Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary group known as the Wagner Group, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 29 to pledge his loyalty, just five days after leading a brief rebellion. The meeting, confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, also involved commanders from the Wagner Group.

Putin discussed Wagner Group's activities on the battlefield in Ukraine and the recent revolt. The commanders emphasized their loyalty to Putin and their readiness to continue defending their homeland.

Putin's direct interaction with Prigozhin, who led a march to Moscow demanding changes in military leadership last month, is notable. Although Putin denounced Prigozhin as a traitor and threatened severe punishment during the revolt, the subsequent criminal case against Prigozhin was dropped. Prigozhin has yet to comment on the meeting, and his fate remains uncertain. Despite the rebellion, he might still face charges for financial malpractices or other violations.

The meeting followed the resurfacing of Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia's military chief and one of the targets of Prigozhin's rebellion. The Defense Ministry released a video of Gerasimov discussing an alleged missile attack on Russian territory and advocating preemptive strikes against missile bases and improving missile defenses.

Prigozhin's rebellion challenged Putin's rule but ended after an agreement allowing him to go to Belarus. The developments reveal Putin's balancing act between condemning Prigozhin's actions and not estranging a popular figure whose troops secured a significant victory for Russia in the past year of the war.

Abbas Gallyamov, a former Putin speechwriter, stated that Putin acknowledges Prigozhin's patriotism and needs his forces, while Prigozhin relies on Putin for protection from prosecution.

Despite denials of any state connection to Prigozhin's forces, Putin has confirmed that Prigozhin's companies have operated under government contracts. The recent conflict with Prigozhin has raised questions about the military's decision-making and Putin's willingness to make tough personnel decisions.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has stated that Prigozhin is currently in Russia. During the June 29 meeting, Putin provided options for Prigozhin's fighters: serve in the regular Russian army, retire, or join Prigozhin in Belarus.

Meanwhile, NATO is preparing for a summit in Lithuania to discuss strategies for dealing with Moscow amid a 16-month-long war.

In other developments, a Russian airstrike on a school in southern Ukraine, where civilians had gathered for humanitarian aid, resulted in seven deaths. Despite Russian denials of targeting civilian locations, the country has faced numerous accusations of war crimes since launching a full-scale invasion in February 2022.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes, and several investigations are underway in Ukraine and other countries.

Ukraine's deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, reported that Ukrainian fighters have reclaimed some territory. However, these claims could not be independently verified.

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Unknown member
Jul 14, 2023

On one hand he is giving Putin his loyalty, the other hand, he is (allegedly) joining forces with Akhmat warriors to march on Kremlin again!!

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Unknown member
Jul 11, 2023

Prigozhin and Vlad did a slick deception operation being able to reposition all of the Wagner assets to Belarus unimpeded by Ukraine. Wagner are now located 48 miles north from Kyiv. What are the chances of them making a run for Kyiv in the near future?

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Unknown member
Jul 11, 2023
Replying to

Next to none. The Ukrainian army is now the most battle-hardened NATO-type military formation in Europe, with substantial frontier defenses north of Kyiv. Past practice is the best guarantor of future behavior. The Wagner forces attacking Bakhmut relied upon traditional-Russian human wave attacks and punishing artillery barrages. Neither will be effective against Ukraine's defense in depth of its capital.

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