Putin's pick to lead the Wagner Group is likely considered a 'traitor' by his own men, UK says

  • The new head of Wagner is likely seen as a "traitor" by his men, per a UK intelligence assessment.

  • Andrei Troshev had served as Wagner's second in command before the aborted mutiny in June.

  • Vladimir Putin met with Troshev this week, charging him with leading "volunteer" units in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has picked someone to lead the powerful Wagner paramilitary group who is likely viewed as a "traitor" by his own men, according to a British military intelligence assessment published Saturday.

On Friday, the Kremlin released photos and a brief transcript of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Andrei Troshev, who previously served as Wagner's chief of staff. Putin named Troshev the new head of the paramilitary organization after the aborted mutiny in June led by former boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who later died in a plane crash.

This week Putin publicly charged Troshev with leading "volunteer" units in "various combat missions," including in Ukraine. A Kremlin spokesperson later described Troshev, a veteran of Wagner operations in Syria, as an employee of Russia's defense ministry.

One problem is that Troshev, around the time of the Wagner rebellion, was "probably involved in encouraging other Wagner personnel to sign contracts" with the Ministry of Defense, according to the UK's military intelligence service, siding with Putin in a fight over the future of the paramilitary organization and to whom it would answer. As a result, "Many Wagner veterans likely consider him a traitor," stated the Sept. 30 assessment.

Joining Putin and Troshev at this week's meeting at the Kremlin was Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, pointing to the ongoing effort to subsume Wagner's operations into the formal Russian military. Yevkurov recently toured a number of African countries, the UK assessment noted, where Wagner has played a key role in propping up Russian allies.

"Presidential endorsement of Troshev and Yevkurov indicates Russia's continuing utilization of volunteer units and private military companies, and planning for the future of Wagner," the assessment stated. And that future, it continued — in contrast with the Prigozhin days — will likely entail "greater oversight from the Kremlin."

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