Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his first public appearance on Monday since a mercenary revolt demanded his removal on Friday.

The defense leader was seen in a video released by the Defense Ministry inspecting troops in Ukraine after armed rebels seized a Russian city and appeared to march unopposed toward Moscow over the weekend. It is unclear when the video was filmed.

Shoigu is one of three powerful Russian military leaders whose diverging interests prompted thousands of Wagner Group mercenaries to make their way from Ukraine to Russia before ending their advance on Saturday – less than 24 hours after its start to avoid bloodshed.

He is the first of these leaders to appear publicly since the revolt as Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, also a target of Prigozhin’s, have not been seen or heard from in public since the uprising. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been absent from the public’s view as well.


Sergei Shoigu listens to military leader

In this photo released on Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (right) listens to an officer as he inspects a command post of one of the formations of the Zapad (West) group of Russian troops at an undisclosed location of Ukraine. (AP)

The video released by the Defense Ministry Monday showed Shoigu flying in a helicopter before attending a meeting with military officers at a military headquarters in Ukraine. 

The video came after Prigozhin declared a “march of justice” on Friday to remove the defense minister and Gerasimo. The mercenaries captured the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday and were marching toward Moscow when Prigozhin made the call to pull his troops back. 

The Kremlin said it made a deal in which the mercenary chief will move to Belarus and he and his soldiers will receive an amnesty. 

The mutiny was the biggest challenge to Putin in more than 20 years.


Servicemen of the Wagner Group

The mercenaries captured the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday and then marched toward Moscow. The rebellion ended shortly after when Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin made the call to pull his troops back.  (AP)

It remains unclear what would ultimately happen to Prigozhin and his forces, and public details of the deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko are limited. It is unclear where Prigozhin has been since he drove out of Rostov-on-Don in an SUV on Saturday.

Prior to the revolt, Prigozhin had been criticizing Shoigu and Gerasimov with expletive-ridden insults for months, slamming them for allegedly failing to provide his troops with enough ammunition during the battle for Bakhmut.

Putin, Shoigu and Gerasimov have not said a word about the fued.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Saturday when reporters asked if Putin still trusts Shoigu that he was not aware of any changes in the attitude of the Russian leader. When asked if any changes in military leadership were discussed during negotiations with Prigozhin, Peskov said personnel changes were not up for discussion since they are the exclusive prerogative of Putin as the commander-in-chief.

Wagner Group

The mercenary soldiers following Prigozhin’s lead reportedly downed several Russian helicopters and a military communications plane during their weekend efforts. (AP)


Prigozhin’s feud with the top military brass dates back years to the Russian military intervention in Syria, and the rift escalated in recent months during the fight for Bakhmut.

The U.S. had intelligence that Prigozhin was building up his forces near the Ukraine-Russia border for a while, which counters Prigozhin’s claim that his rebellion was in response to a Russian attack on his field camps in Ukraine that he says killed many his men. The Defense Ministry said it did not attack the camps.

The Wagner forces’ largely unopposed advance exposed vulnerabilities in Russia’s security and military forces amid its war against Ukraine. The mercenary soldiers reportedly downed several helicopters and a military communications plane during their weekend efforts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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