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Russian Defense Minister Makes First Appearance After Wagner Revolt

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu seen at a military command post. Russian Defense Ministry

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Monday made his first public appearance following an armed revolt against the country’s military leadership by the Wagner private military outfit.

Footage shared by the Russian Defense Ministry showed Shoigu in uniform on board a helicopter, followed by him entering a military command post where he could be seen chairing a meeting and inspecting maps. 

The date and exact location of the visit were not specified.

Rybar, a prominent pro-war blogger on the Telegram messaging app, claimed the video seemed to have been filmed before Prigozhin declared his rebellion, based on his sources from the field and from the military headquarters.

The Defense Ministry wrote that Shoigu had visited a “forward command post” in Ukraine, where he was said to have noted the Russian army’s "great efficiency in the detection and destruction" of Ukrainian weapons systems and soldiers.

Shoigu instructed senior commanders to “continue to conduct active reconnaissance in order to reveal the enemy’s plans.”

The Defense Ministry made no mention of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his mercenary fighters who had taken control of a military headquarters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don early Saturday.  

Shoigu had vanished from public view for the entire weekend as Prigozhin blasted his handling of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sent his mercenaries on a lightning-fast march toward Moscow. 

Wagner fighters returned to their base on Sunday after Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to drop treason charges against Prigzohin, who has now been exiled to neighboring Belarus. 

The private army chief had accused Shoigu of fleeing Rostov-on-Don “like a coward” and was seen on video Saturday confronting two of the Russian defense minister’s subordinates.

Prigozhin had previously accused Shoigu and Russia's top General Valery Gerasimov of being responsible for the deaths of "tens of thousands of Russians" in the conflict and the "surrender of territory to the enemy."

He was last seen late Saturday in an SUV leaving Rostov-on-Don.

AFP contributed reporting.

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