Russian President Vladimir Putin has recommended to the Wagner Group fighters that Andrey Troshev, a retired Soviet and Russian military colonel, be appointed as the commander of the private military group. Putin’s comments were disclosed in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper.
The push to replace Yevgeny Prigozhin as Wagner chief comes just weeks after he led the mercenary group in an open mutiny. Wagner mercenaries abandoned the frontlines in Ukraine and advanced toward Moscow. The crisis was averted at the eleventh hour by a deal struck by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, but the situation in Russia remains tenuous.
Prighozin’s whereabouts are now unknown. He had reportedly traveled to Belarus as part of the deal brokered by Lukashenko, but the Belarusian leader claimed last week that the mercenary leader is back in Russia. In any case, President Putin may be hoping that Andrey Troshev will prove to be a more loyal leader of the Wagner Group if he takes up the reins from Prighozin.
Russia's Wagner: Andrey Troshev, what we know about the man Putin proposed as new Wagner commander https://t.co/ALnFG08cys
— Colin P. Clarke (@ColinPClarke) July 15, 2023
In the aftermath of the failed uprising by the Wagner mercenary group, President Putin’s comments to the Kommersant newspaper suggest a division emerging between senior fighters and their leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. The newspaper reported on a meeting that took place five days after the collapse of the rebellion, which was attended by Prigozhin and numerous high-ranking Wagner combatants.
According to Kommersant, during the meeting, Putin presented various employment options to the Wagner mercenaries. One of the choices included the continuation of operations under the command of a senior fighter known by the alias “Sedoy,” meaning “grey hair.” This indicates a potential fracture in the unity within the group, as per the narrative conveyed by Putin’s comments.
“They could have all gathered in one place and continued to serve,” said Putin, “and nothing would have changed for them. They would be led by the same person who has been their real commander all along.”
“In reply to Putin,” the Kommersant reporter asked, “And what happened then?” Putin responded, saying, “Many people nodded [affirmatively] when I said that.”
Who is Andrey Troshev, Putin’s pick for Wagner chief?
According to sanctions documents released by the European Union and France, Andrey Troshev, a retired Russian colonel and founding member of the Wagner Group, operates under the call sign “Sedoy.” The European Union sanctions related to the situation in Syria indicate that Troshev held the position of chief of staff for Wagner Group operations in support of the Syrian regime.
Born in April 1953 in Leningrad, in the former Soviet Union, Troshev has had an extensive military career. After completing high school, he enrolled in the Leningrad Higher Artillery Command School. Following graduation, he held various command and officer positions in different artillery units.
Toshev then served in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan as part of a limited Soviet troop contingent, commanding a battery of self-propelled artillery. He received two Orders of the Red Star.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he continued his service in the Russian Armed Forces. He took part in the Second Chechen War and was honored with two Order of Courage awards and a Medal of the Order “For Merit to the Fatherland” of the Second Degree for his military achievements.
He subsequently served in units of the Leningrad Military District. Following his departure from the reserve, he held positions in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He worked in the ОМОN and SОBR units of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Northwestern Federal District. He also commanded the Saint Petersburg SOBR unit for a period of time.
More recently, Troshev is believed to have had involvement in Russia’s military operations in Syria. According to EU sanctions levied in 2021, “Andrey Troshev is directly involved in the military operations of the Wagner Group in Syria. He was particularly involved in the area of Deir ez-Zor.”