After an attempted coup, President Vladimir Putin received the leader of the Russian mercenaries at the Kremlin, Prigozhin

President Vladimir Putin invited 35 people to the meeting, including unit commanders, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, who told reporters that it lasted three hours.

A senior government spokesman said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin at the Kremlin days after the commander oversaw a brief uprising. This is the latest development in a puzzling incident that has raised concerns about the level of power and influence held by both men.

President Vladimir Putin

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the three-hour meeting took place on June 29 and included military contractors from Prigozhin’s Wagner Group. Wagner’s conduct on the Ukrainian battlefield, where the mercenaries fought alongside Russian troops, and the uprising as a whole were evaluated by President Vladimir Putin. According to Peskov, Putin received a guarantee of devotion from the Wagner forces.

It was surprising to learn that President Vladimir Putin had a face-to-face meeting with Prigozhin, who had led troops in a march to Moscow last month to demand a new defence minister.

Putin called Prigozhin a traitor as the uprising developed, but the criminal case against the mercenary leader was eventually dropped, and it is still unknown what will become of him.

The fact that Putin had previously denied any connection between the state and Prigozhin’s forces added to the meeting’s unusualness. Despite the fact that mercenaries are forbidden in Russia, Wagner troops have defended Russian interests there and were crucial to Bakhmut’s capture during the war’s longest and bloodiest fight.

Prigozhin, meanwhile, has criticised decisions made by Russia’s top military commanders throughout the course of the conflict, causing a deterioration in relations with the Kremlin that culminated on June 24 in an armed uprising in which he led his soldiers into Russian territory.

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Even though Prigozhin asserted that the uprising was not directed at the president but rather at Gen. Valery Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, it significantly reduced Putin’s power. After an agreement was reached for him to travel to Belarus, Prigozhin put an end to his insurrection.

The first time Gerasimov has been seen since the uprising, a video featuring him was released by the Russian Defence Ministry on Monday.

The dual changes appeared to be another effort by the Kremlin to assert its authority during a difficult time. The agreement that put a halt to Prigozhin’s uprising is just one of the many unanswered questions.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, said that Prigozhin was in his country days after the uprising. However, the president said last week that the mercenary commander was in Russia while his soldiers remained in their camps.

President Vladimir Putin gave a “assessment” of Wagner’s efforts on the Ukrainian battlefield and “of the events of June 24” at the meeting on June 29, according to Peskov. The Kremlin official added that the president “listened to the commanders’ explanations and offered them options for further employment and further use in combat.”

“The commanders themselves gave their account of what took place. They emphasised their allegiance to the president and commander-in-chief and declared themselves to be prepared to fight for their country in the future, according to Peskov.

Peskov reported that 35 persons in all attended the meeting.

The governor of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region claimed Monday that a Russian airstrike on a school in southern Ukraine killed four adults as people gathered to receive humanitarian aid and dubbed the attack “a war crime.”

Yuriy Malashko, the governor of Orikhiv, reported that four people, three women and one man, all in their 40s, perished in the strike on Sunday.

Malashko claimed without offering any proof that an explosion at the school was caused by a guided aerial bomb. He claimed that the attack also injured eleven additional people.

Over the course of one day, he claimed, Russia shot on 10 communities in the province.

Moscow disputes that it targets civilian areas. Since its invasion of the adjacent Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has been charged with both this and other war crimes on several occasions.

President Vladimir Putin was named in an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in March for alleged war crimes related to the kidnapping of Ukrainian children.

Additionally, investigations are being conducted in Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These investigations are being supported by the The Hague-based International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine.

The largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located in the Zaporizhzhia province, one of the four parts of Ukraine that President Vladimir Putin unlawfully annexed last year. Russian soldiers captured it early in the conflict. A Ukrainian counteroffensive includes retaking the province as one of its objectives.

A statement from the Ukrainian presidential office states that on Sunday and Monday, Russian aerial bombardment persisted across Ukraine.

According to the office, the Russians shelled residential areas of six cities and villages in the eastern Donetsk region using aircraft, missile systems, and heavy artillery, inflicting one injury.

In Kherson, the regional capital of the same-named province, the Russian army attacked civilian neighbourhoods. According to the presidential administration, a 66-year-old woman was hurt.

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