A senior politician in the Kremlin, Leonid Slutsky, has claimed Vladimir Putin will need to establish an army of seven million soldiers to replace the disbanded Wagner mercenary group.
Slutsky argued Russia requires a contract army of that magnitude as well as its current conscript army, following the failed coup attempt by Wagner.
He stated on the Telegram channel: “The country does not need any PMCs (private military companies) and their likes. There are problems in the regular army, but PMCs cannot solve them.”
In response to the coup attempt, Putin, 70, has vowed to bring the Wagner group to justice.
The White House denied any involvement, emphasising it was an internal Russian matter.
National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge said: “The United States was not involved and will not get involved in this situation.”
Speculation arose regarding the possible role of Western influences in the rebellion, as suggested by the Kremlin.
The Wagner Group, also known as PMC Wagner, is a Russian paramilitary organisation founded in 2014, led by Putin's former ally, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
While Russia refers to it as a "private military company" it’s been branded an army of barbaric mercenaries.
As of December 2022, the group was believed to have approximately 50,000 personnel in Ukraine, comprising contractors and convicts from Russian prisons.
Following the mutiny, videos circulated on social media showing banners encouraging people to join the Wagner Group being torn down in Russian cities.
Meanwhile, two planes connected to Prigozhin have landed in Belarus.
Prigozhin, 62, is said to have struck a deal with Putin, resulting in him fleeing to Belarus and his forces being halted just 120 miles from Moscow.
The planes, an Embraer Legacy 600 and a BAE 125-800B, arrived at an air base near Minsk.
While it remained unconfirmed whether Prigozhin was on board, it was expected Prigozhin would arrive in Belarus for his exile.
US Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner suggested the Wagner boss had reached Minsk, possibly staying in a windowless hotel in the capital to avoid the danger of assassination.
He told NBC News: “I understand, literally as I was coming on air, that he says he's in Minsk and he actually is.”
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