Vladimir Putin’s Surprising Negotiations with Wagner Mercenary Chief Revealed in Newspaper Interview

Vladimir Putin Fails to Replace Wagner Mercenary Chief in Ukraine Negotiations

In a recent interview with the Kommersant newspaper, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that he attempted to have Yevgeny Prigozhin replaced as the head of Wagner’s fighters in Ukraine. However, Prigozhin rejected Putin’s proposal during a meeting at the Kremlin, highlighting the challenges Putin faces in managing the various power players within his regime.

The failed negotiations shed light on Putin’s weakness and his inability to effectively navigate the conflicts among the different factions in his government. Last month’s brief Wagner rebellion further exposed this vulnerability. As a result, the Kremlin has been making efforts to win the loyalty of the Wagner group’s rank and file, while simultaneously discrediting Prigozhin by leaking sensitive information about him.

During the meeting at the Kremlin, Putin offered Prigozhin the option to allow Wagner fighters to continue serving in Ukraine under the leadership of their battlefield commander, Andrey Trochev. However, Prigozhin rejected the proposal, asserting that the fighters would not agree with the decision.

The Kremlin’s strategy appears aimed at separating Prigozhin from Wagner and the group’s fighters. Putin seeks to maintain control over the Wagner mercenaries while minimizing Prigozhin’s influence. By publicly discussing the failed negotiations, Putin is attempting to assert his authority as the “godfather” of the various power interests in Russia.

It is worth noting that Putin’s remarks also called into question the very existence of Wagner, citing Russian legislation that outlaws private military companies. This move casts doubt on the future of the group and suggests that Putin could outlaw Wagner at any moment.

Despite their differences, both Putin and Prigozhin still have an ongoing need for each other. The two sides have not found common ground, but it is in their best interest to forge a peaceful resolution. For Putin, the ultimate goal is the war in Ukraine, and for Prigozhin, his position remains precarious without the president’s support.

In an attempt to undermine Prigozhin’s reputation, Kremlin-controlled television channels have aired reports about his business interests and allegations of inefficiency and corruption. Furthermore, embarrassing photographs of Prigozhin have been leaked, leading to ridicule of the mercenary chief.

Footage broadcasted by Belarusian state media claims to show Wagner fighters training soldiers in Belarus, while the Russian military has claimed to have recovered equipment from Wagner offices. The crisis within the group has led to a shift in its operations, with the United States stating that Wagner forces have largely been sidelined in Ukraine. However, the majority of Wagner fighters still remain in Russian-occupied Ukraine.

As negotiations between Putin and Prigozhin continue, there is speculation about the valuable prizes at stake. Alongside Prigozhin’s lucrative operations in Africa, his Concord Group’s contracts to supply Russian military bases abroad could be coveted by the Kremlin if they can be wrested from his control.

In conclusion, Putin’s unsuccessful attempt to replace Prigozhin as the leader of Wagner’s fighters in Ukraine highlights the challenges he faces in maintaining control within his regime. As the negotiations unfold, the Kremlin aims to undermine Prigozhin’s influence while keeping the Wagner mercenaries under its command. The future of Wagner remains uncertain, but both Putin and Prigozhin have a mutual need to maintain a working relationship.