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Who is Andrey Troshev, the man Putin proposed as the new leader of the Wagner Group?

(CNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed to Wagner Group fighters that Andrey Troshev, a high-ranking mercenary, now lead the private military group, according to statements by the Russian President to the Kommersant newspaper.

Putin appears to have driven a wedge between senior Wagner fighters and his leader Yevgeny Prigozhin since his failed uprising last month, at least in terms of the narrative emerging from his comments to Kommersant.

The newspaper reported on a meeting held by the Russian president five days after the failed Wagner rebellion in late June, attended by Prigozhin and several dozen high-ranking Wagnerian fighters.

According to Kommersant, Putin told dozens of Wagnerian mercenaries at the meeting that among the many employment options he offered them, one included continuing to fight under their direct commander, a man nicknamed “Sedoy”, which means “gray hair”. .

“They could have all gathered in one place and continued to serve,” Putin said, “and nothing would have changed for them. They would be led by the same person who has always been their real commander.”

“And what happened then?” asked the Kommersant journalist in response to Putin. “A lot of people agreed. [afirmativamente] when I said that,” Putin replied.

Who is Andrey Troshev?

“Sedoy” is the callsign for Andrey Troshev, a retired Russian colonel and founding member and CEO of the Wagner Group, according to sanctions documents released by the European Union and France.

European Union sanctions relating to the situation in Syria detail Troshev’s role as chief of staff for operations of the Wagner Group in Syria, which supported the Syrian regime.

Troshev was born in April 1953 in Leningrad, in the former Soviet Union, under the European Union’s December 2021 sanctions.

“Andrey Troshev is directly involved in the Wagner Group’s military operations in Syria. He was particularly involved in the Deir ez-Zor region,” he added. “As such, he makes a crucial contribution to Bashar al-Assad’s war effort and thus supports and benefits the Syrian regime.”

Sanctions imposed by the UK from June 2022 also state that “Andrey Nikolaevich Troshev was the CEO of the Wagner Group. He therefore supported the Syrian regime, was a member of a militia and suppressed the civilian population in Syria”.

Among his associates is the founder of the Wagner Group, Dimitriy Utkin, who is also a former military intelligence official of the Russian Central Intelligence Department (GRU, for its acronym in Russian), according to European Union sanctions. Troshev is also associated with Wagner Group commanders Aleksandr Sergeevich Kuznetsov and Andrey Bogatov.

“Sedoy” is also a former employee of the Russian Interior Ministry’s Northwestern Federal District Rapid Intervention Special Detachment, according to Russian media outlet Fontanka. He is also a veteran of the wars in Chechnya and Afghanistan.

For his service in Afghanistan, Troshev received two Orders of the Red Star, a decoration from the Soviet Union for exceptional service. For his service in the operation in Chechnya, he received two Orders of Valor and a medal of the Order of Merit to the Fatherland, 2nd degree, according to Russian media.

Troshev was one of the guests at a Kremlin reception in December 2016. A photograph, believed to be from that 2016 reception, appeared in Russian media in 2017 and shows Putin alongside Troshev and Utkin, both wearing various medals .

Members of the Wagner group sit on top of a tank on a street in the city of Rostov-on-Don on June 24, 2023. Credit: Roman Romokhov/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine imposed sanctions against Troshev on February 26, 2023.

Meanwhile, the fate of Wagner boss Prigozhin remains uncertain. Prigozhin had traveled to Belarus as part of a deal brokered by President Alexander Lukashenko after the failed uprising, but he told CNN last week the Wagner leader was now in Russia.

Footage purporting to show a police raid on Prigozhin’s properties in St Petersburg also raised questions about his whereabouts. Prigozhin has not been seen in public since June 2.