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"The Wagner Group doesn't exist!" – Putin comments on meeting with rebels

Friday, 14 July 2023, 00:28
The Wagner Group doesn't exist! – Putin comments on meeting with rebels
Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin. Photo: Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken about his meeting with Wagner mercenaries, noting that legally, no such organisation (the private military company, or PMC) exists.

Source: Putin in a comment to the Russian media outlet Kommersant

Quote: "Well, the Wagner PMC does not exist! We have no law on private military organisations! It just doesn't exist!

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So if there is no law, then there is no PMC.

There is a group, but legally it doesn’t exist! This is a separate issue related to real legalisation. But this is an issue that should be discussed in the State Duma, in the government. It’s not an easy question."

Details: Putin said 35 people were at the meeting. He noted that he had "assessed" the Wagnerites’ actions in the war [against Ukraine - ed.] and during the mutiny on 24 June.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken about his meeting with Wagner mercenaries, noting that legally, no such organisation (the private military company, or PMC) exists.

Source: Putin in a comment to the Russian media outlet Kommersant

Quote: "Well, the Wagner PMC does not exist! We have no law on private military organisations! It just doesn't exist!

So if there is no law, then there is no PMC.

There is a group, but legally it doesn’t exist! This is a separate issue related to real legalisation. But this is an issue that should be discussed in the State Duma, in the government. It’s not an easy question."

Details: Putin said 35 people were at the meeting. He noted that he had "assessed" the Wagnerites’ actions in the war [against Ukraine - ed.] and during the mutiny on 24 June.

The Russian dictator also said he had offered them "several employment options, including [the option to remain] under the leadership of their direct commander with the nom de guerre Sedoi".

According to Putin, most of the mercenaries present at the meeting nodded their heads at his proposals. But Prigozhin replied that "the guys do not agree with this decision".

Earlier: The Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that Vladimir Putin met with the founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, after the mutiny. The meeting lasted for almost three hours.

Background:

  • On the evening of 23 June, Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that the regular Russian army had launched a missile strike on the Wagner mercenaries’ rear camps. He therefore deployed 25,000 of his mercenaries "to restore justice".
  • On the morning of 24 June, Prigozhin claimed that his forces had taken control of military facilities in Rostov-on-Don, including the air base, and were heading "to Moscow", and that his soldiers had shot down three Russian helicopters. Wagner mercenaries also seized military facilities in the Russian city of Voronezh.
  • In an emergency address on 24 June, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was "fighting for survival" and that attempts were being made to "organise a rebellion" in the country.
  • On the afternoon of 24 June, Russian media reported that the Office of the President of the Russian Federation anticipated that Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group fighters would likely reach Moscow’s outskirts in the next few hours, with fighting expected near Russia’s capital. Ukrainian intelligence had information that Putin had urgently left Moscow for his residence in Valdai. The Wagner Group convoy was spotted 400 km from Moscow.
  • On the evening of 24 June, following a conversation with self-proclaimed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin announced that his mercenaries were turning their convoys around and going back to set up field camps. Later, it was reported that the criminal case against Prigozhin was to be closed and he would "go to Belarus".
  • Russian pro-war media and Telegram channels claimed that 13 to 20 people died as a result of the mutiny by Wagner Group fighters.
  • The Russian army also suffered losses of military vehicles: according to Important Stories (Vazhnye Istorii), they lost three Mі-8 electronic warfare helicopters, one Mi-8 transport helicopter and two Ka-52 and Mі-35M assault helicopters, as well as an Іl-22M aircraft command post and two armoured cars, a KamAZ and a Tigr. The Wagner Group lost two UAZs, one KamAZ and one VPK-Ural armoured car.
  • According to the Russian service of Radio Liberty, citing calculations made by the Dutch project Oryx, the mercenaries shot down an Іl-22M plane and six Russian army helicopters during the mutiny.
  • Putin confirmed the deaths of Russian pilots during the Wagner mercenaries’ rebellion. He met with the heads of law enforcement agencies and thanked them for "suppressing" the rebellion. He also stated that the Wagnerites would be able to sign a contract with the Russian Defence Ministry, resign, or "go to Belarus".
  • Yevgeny Prigozhin personally arrived in St Petersburg on 4 July, where weapons seized during searches were returned to him.
  • It was previously reported that Prigozhin was given back RUB 10 billion [approx. US$111,313 million – ed.] which security officials found during searches in St Petersburg following his attempted mutiny.

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