Pavel Prigozhin, 25 years old, son of Yevgeny Prigozhin. Photo: EAST2WEST NEWS/EAST2WEST NEWS
Yevgeny Prigozhin's son has reportedly taken over “command” of the Wagner Group and is negotiating with Moscow to return his fighters to the war in Ukraine, leading military analysts said.
Pavel Prigozhin, 25, was in talks with the Russian National Guard over the future of the mercenary group founded by his father, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported, citing a well-known Telegram channel associated with Wagner.
Wagner's main fighting forces are scattered across several countries, including Belarus, the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali, and its fighters withdrew from Ukraine earlier this year.
The group has had no clear leader since its death. Yevgeniy Prigozhin in a plane crash in August, two months after he led a failed mutiny aimed at ousting senior leaders of the Russian military over operational failures during the war.
The announcement of Pavel Prigozhin as the new leader comes after some Wagner fighters reacted negatively to Vladimir Putin's apparent embrace last week with one of his former senior commanders, ISW reports.
Andrey Troshev, a former Wagner commander, will oversee volunteer fighters in Ukraine. Photo: MICHAEL METZEL/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK
Putin assigned Andrei Troshev, known as “Sedoy,” to supervise volunteer fighters in Ukraine. The Kremlin said he now works for the Russian Defense Ministry.
ISW said the alleged events involving Pavel Prigozhin indicate that “some Wagner employees are interested in rallying around a Prigozhin-linked alternative to the Kremlin and the Defense Ministry.” .
The Russian source cited by the think tank claims that Prigozhin Jr. did not act independently and was influenced by Mikhail Vatanin, head of Wagner's Security Service.
But a well-known source associated with Wagner added that Wagner's fighters would not have to sign contracts with the Russian Defense Ministryand that the mercenary group would retain its name, symbols, ideology and commanders under the leadership of Pavel Prigozhin, ISW reported. .
“Fighters are returning to Ukraine”
Another pro-Wagner source said over the weekend that Moscow is considering allowing members of the Wagner group to join the Russian National Guard as a separate Wagner unit.
A Ukrainian military spokesman said last week that several hundred Wagner fighters had returned to eastern Ukraine after being withdrawn from the country following the capture of Bakhmut in May.
Sergei Cherevaty, a spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the east, said the mercenaries were scattered across different places, were not part of a single unit and did not have a significant impact on the course of the war.
Russian military bloggers also report that some Wagner fighters have been returning to Ukraine in recent weeks.