Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of a Russian military chief who has not been seen in public since the mercenary Wagner Group’s failed mutiny attempt.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said evidence is mounting that Sergei Surovikin has been “sidelined” in the wake of the unsuccessful coup.
Months of tension between Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and Vladimir Putin came to a head on NJune 24 when the group seized the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and marched on Moscow.
However, a deal was brokered which saw Prigozhin call off his assault and reportedly agree to live in neighbouring Belarus.
Surovikin, commander-in-chief of Russian aerospace forces, has long-standing links with the Wagner Group. Earlier this month, the MoD said he may have been arrested.
In their latest update on the war in Ukraine, the MoD said General Valery Gerasimov, Russian chief of the general staff, had made his first TV appearance since the abortive mutiny.
He was seen being briefed by video link by Colonel-General Viktor Afzalovm Russian aerospace forces chief of staff and Surovikin’s deputy.
The MoD said: “Afzalov’s increased public profile, while Surovikin’s whereabouts remains unclear, adds further weight to the hypothesis that Surovikin has been sidelined following the mutiny.”
The Kremlin revealed earlier this week that Putin had met with Yevgeny Prigozhin just days after after the failed Wagner coup.
The face-to-face took place on June 29 and lasted nearly three hours, according to Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov.