Russian defence minister makes first appearance since Wagner crisis

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Russian state television on Monday broadcast footage of Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspecting Russian troops, in his first public appearance since a failed mutiny by Wagner forces.

Shoigu — the target of fierce criticism by the mercenary group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin — went to a command post for Russian forces in Ukraine and held a meeting there with the leader of one of the units, according to images shown by the broadcaster.

During the meeting, the minister highlighted “great efficiency in the detection and destruction” of Ukraine’s weapons systems and soldiers, the ministry of defence said in a press release.

The footage shows Shoigu listening to a report being presented on the area’s military situation, studying maps and taking a helicopter ride to inspect Russian positions.

Wagner mercenaries headed back to their base on Sunday after Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to allow Prigozhin to avoid treason charges and accept exile in neighbouring Belarus.

The agreement brought an end to an extraordinary crisis after the private army, led by Putin’s former close ally, tried to storm Moscow.

Prigozhin has repeatedly blamed Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff, for his fighters’ deaths.

Prigozhin was last seen late Saturday in an SUV leaving Rostov-on-Don, where his fighters had seized a military headquarters, to the cheers of some local people.

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