Russia’s Defense Ministry published a video today of Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov in his first public appearance since the Wagner private military group launched a failed mutiny last month against President Vladimir Putin. The ministry released the video as Moscow announced that following the mutiny, Putin met in the Kremlin with Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and his commanding officers.
READ MORE about Yevgeny Prigozhin and the 24 hours that shook Moscow.
Russian bloggers had speculated that Gerasimov was fired in the wake of the mutiny; but the Defense Ministry video showed Gerasimov sitting in a room giving orders to subordinate commands, including the GRU, Russia’s formidable military intelligence service.
“I’m tasking the Aerospace Forces and the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) to continue systematic work on identifying the storage and launch sites of missiles and the enemy’s other weapons in order to plan preemptive attacks,” Gerasimov said, referencing Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Putin placed Gerasimov in charge of the war in January. He replaced General Sergei Surovikin, whose whereabouts remain unknown following the aborted mutiny.
The Kremlin, meanwhile, announced that Putin met for hours with Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in the days following an aborted June mutiny.
“The president did hold such a meeting,” Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. “He invited 35 people – all the squad commanders and the leadership of the [private military] company, including Prigozhin. The meeting took place in the Kremlin on June 29 and lasted for nearly three hours.”
Prigozhin last month called off the apparent mutiny as his fighters closed in on Moscow.
During the Wagner chief’s meeting with Putin, the Wagner commanders accounted for their actions, Peskov said.
“The commanders themselves shared their version of what happened [on June 24], they emphasized that they are staunch supporters and soldiers of the head of state and the supreme commander-in-chief, and also said that they are ready to continue fighting for the Fatherland,” Peskov said.
Prior to launching the mutiny, Prigozhin took verbal swipes at Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. He lobbed insults and curses, and said that he two military chiefs would be forced in Hell to eat the entrails of fallen soldiers, in retaliation for mishandling the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The Kremlin initially charged Prigozhin with mutiny over his rebellion, and later dropped the charges.
The fate of Prigozhin and his Wagner Group remain unclear.