President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia held a lengthy meeting with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin and his top commanders from the Wagner private military company just five days after the group launched a brief mutiny, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said on Monday.
It is the first known contact between the two men since the Wagner group’s brief uprising, which posed the most dramatic challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority in his more than two decades in power.
Mr. Putin invited 35 people to the three-hour meeting, including the top Wagner commanders and the group’s leader, Mr. Prigozhin, on June 29, the Kremlin spokesman said. Just days earlier, the mercenaries seized a southern Russian city and an important Russian military headquarters, and began a short-lived march on Moscow, seeking the removal of the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry.
In the days since, the status of Mr. Prigozhin, the Wagner group and its fighters has been shrouded in mystery. Despite the announcement of a deal under which Mr. Prigozhin called off the uprising and would go to Belarus, he has remained in Russia, according to Russian news reports and the Belarusian president. Mr. Prigozhin has not been seen publicly since June 24, the day of the uprising.
Mr. Peskov described the details of the meeting as “unknown,” raising further questions about the future of Wagner.
“The only thing we can say is that the president gave his assessment of the company’s actions” during both the war in Ukraine and the uprising, Mr. Peskov said. “Putin heard out the commanders and proposed further employment options and further combat options.”
The commanders shared with Mr. Putin their version of events, Mr. Peskov said, and pledged their loyalty to the Russian president. Mr. Prigozhin had previously asserted that the brief mutiny was a stand against Russia’s military leadership, not Mr. Putin or his government.
“They emphasized that they are staunch supporters and soldiers of the head of state and commander in chief — and also said they are prepared to fight for the country going forward,” Mr. Peskov said.