Wagner chief was pictured on the staircase of a hotel with an African diplomat during the Russia -Africa summit in St Petersburg today, just weeks after his group of mercenaries aborted rebellion against the Russian defense ministry.
Prigozhin, 62, was pictured alongside a man believed to be a member of the Central African Republic’s delegation to the summit, where a slew of African leaders are meeting with Russian President Vladimir.
Prigozhin was seemingly spared punishment following the uprising last month, which saw his mercenary troops seize a city in southern Russia and bear down on Moscow before aborting at the last minute, under a deal allegedly brokered by Belarusian president AlexanderLukashenko.
Prigozhin where many Wagner troops are now residing in field camps as they help to train Belarusian army units – raising fears that they could attack Ukraine from the north or Poland on the west
Prigozhin’s presence at a Russian summit of African leaders and his meeting with a CAR delegate would certainly make sense, given the Wagner group’s extensive operational scope in numerous African countries including the CAR, Libya, Mali, Sudan, Mozambique, and Burkina Faso.
They are also understood to operate in Niger, where a coup was carried out on Wednesday by the country’s presidential guard.
Its goals differ in each region, but Wagner operations almost invariably involve bolstering the military forces of the Kremlin’s preferred regimes in Africa by delivering weapons and training and providing additional security services.
In return, Russia gains access to natural resources, investment opportunities, and geopolitical influence.
His appearance in St Petersburg comes a week after he welcomed his fighters to Belarus following their failed mutiny against the Russian regime, a dark and grainy video apparently filmed at the Tsel military base appeared to show.
Speaking at the summit today, Putin offered free grain to six African countries.
Russia last week refused to extend a deal under which Ukrainian grain exports passed through the Black Sea to reach global markets, including Africa, easing pressure on food prices.
‘In the coming months we will be able to ensure free supplies of 25,000 to 50,000 tonnes of grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea,’ Putin said.
Over a year, the grain deal allowed around 33 million tonnes of grain to leave Ukrainian ports, helping to stabilize global food prices and avert shortages.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed African leaders attending the summit to demand answers about the grain disruptions that have propelled poorer nations towards crisis.
‘They know exactly who’s to blame for this current situation,’ Blinken said of the leaders.
‘My expectation would be that Russia will hear this clearly from our African partners,’ he said Thursday during a visit to New Zealand
The Wagner terrorists withdrew from Bakhmut after losing thousands and thousands of their members blaming the Ministry of Defence. African countries should just know the grain Russia promises is stolen goods from Ukraine. Participating in their consumption is participating in the genocide of Ukrainians