Russian President Vladimir Putin has selected a former Wagner Group aide to coordinate volunteer soldiers in Ukraine.
The Kremlin announced the appointment of Andrei Troshev, a former aide to Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a Friday statement.
Putin told Troshev, in remarks released by the Kremlin, that his job is to “deal with forming volunteer units that could perform various combat tasks, primarily in the zone of the special military operation,” a reference to the war in Ukraine.
A former colonel, Troshev has previously served in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria with the Russian military.
Dmitry Peskov, a high-ranking Kremlin spokesman, told the press that Troshev is currently employed by the Ministry of Defense.
The appointment of the Prigozhin-aligned mercenary shows Russian military officials are working to integrate the Wagner Group into the invasion effort.
Prigozhin, who was reportedly killed last month in a mysterious plane explosion while traveling in Russian airspace, staged a failed challenge to Putin in late June.
The warlord initiated what observers called the most significant challenge to Putin’s regime — but after marching his 25,000-strong mercenary forces to within 125 miles of Moscow, Prigozhin abruptly ended the operation and ordered his troops to return home before heading into exile in Belarus.
The future of the Wagner Group and its relationship with the Russian government have been a source of speculation since Prigozhin’s apparent death.
The mercenary outfit previously cooperated with the Russian military and trained soldiers in allied Belarus after the June coup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.