Military analysts believe Yevgeny Prigozhin’s son has taken command of the Wagner Group and is negotiating with Moscow to return the group’s men to the Ukraine conflict.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported, citing a large Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel, that 25-year-old Pavel Prigozhin was in talks with the Russian National Guard over the future of his father’s mercenary company.
Wagner’s primary fighting groups have spread over various countries after their departure from Ukraine earlier this year, with personnel currently positioned in Belarus, the Central African Republic, Libya, and Mali.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a failed attempt to remove the Russian military’s senior brass for operational inadequacies in the Ukraine war, died in an airplane crash in August, leaving the organization without a clear leader.
After several Wagner fighters responded angrily to Vladimir Putin’s apparent backing for one of its former top leaders last week, ISW projected that Pavel Prigozhin would be named as the organization’s new leader.
Putin appointed Andrei Troshev, dubbed “Sedoi” (grey-haired), to supervise the volunteer fighters in Ukraine. According to the Kremlin, he has found work in the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Recent developments involving Pavel Prigozhin, according to the ISW, have demonstrated that “some Wagner personnel are interested in rallying around a Prigozhin-linked alternative to the Kremlin- and MoD-aligned Troshev, even if that alternative is not an independent entity.”
According to a Russian source, Wagner’s security head Mikhail Vatanin had excessive influence on Prigozhin’s younger brother.
However, a top Wagner source informed ISW that the mercenary group will retain its identity, including its name, insignia, philosophy, and commanders, while working under Pavel Prigozhin.
Soldiers are returning to Ukraine.
Another pro-Wagner source indicated over the weekend that Moscow was considering allowing Wagner Group members to join the Russian National Guard as its own unit.
Last Monday, a Ukrainian military spokeswoman stated that hundreds of Wagner fighters had returned to eastern Ukraine after fleeing the nation following the May seizure of Bakhmut.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, a Ukrainian military spokeswoman, stated the mercenaries were dispersed and not functioning as a coherent force, and hence had minimal effect on the fighting.
Russian military bloggers have also claimed the return of several Wagner fighters to Ukraine.