Wagner not ‘in any significant capacity’ fighting in Ukraine war; Prigozhin missing, says Pentagon

  • Wagener fighters are no longer involved in the Ukraine war, says the US.
  • Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s whereabouts are largely unknown.
  • The majority of Wagner mercenaries are still in Ukraine.

Wagner mercenaries are no longer participating in “any significant capacity” in combat operations in Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Thursday, more than two weeks after the group’s aborted mutiny in Russia.

“At this stage, we do not see Wagner forces participating in any significant capacity in support of combat operations in Ukraine,” Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder told a news briefing.

The armed group, which played a key role in the Ukraine offensive, sought to topple Russia’s military leadership during the brief rebellion, before backing down.

The whereabouts of its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin are largely unknown in the wake of an agreement with the Kremlin that allowed for him to be exiled to neighbouring Belarus.

Ryder said the United States assessed that “the majority” of Wagner fighters were still in areas of Russian-occupied Ukraine.

READ | Russia disarms Wagner troops ready to ‘fight for the Motherland’; Prigozhin, Surovikin fate unknown

Russian army chief of staff Valery Gerasimov Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had for months been the targets of fierce criticism from Prigozhin, leading up to the attempted rebellion.

Members of Wagner group looks from a military vehicle in Rostov-on-Don.

Since the failed mutiny, speculation has been rife that there could be a reshuffle among Russia’s military leadership, while details about the deal that ended the Wagner rebellion remain uncertain.

The Kremlin has said that President Vladimir Putin met with Prigozhin during an hours-long meeting in Moscow days after the mutiny.

On Wednesday, Russia announced that its army had received more than 2 000 pieces of military hardware, including tanks, from Wagner, following the rebellion.

Al Jazeera reported that under the terms of the deal that ended the rebellion he was supposed to go into exile in Belarus, but Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said last week that Wagner soldiers remained in their camps and Prigozhin was in Russia.

The Kremlin said on Monday that Prigozhin and 34 of his top officers met President Vladimir Putin on 29 June, five days after the rebellion. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wagner’s commanders pledged loyalty to Putin and that they were ready “to continue to fight for the Motherland”.

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