After 15 days of mystery, the Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov reappeared

Valery Gerasimov

Russia’s Defense Ministry released a video of the country’s military chief on Monday, the first time General Valery Gerasimov was shown since Yevgeny Prigozhin called for his removal during the Wagner Group rebellion.

In the video, Gerasimov is shown listening to a briefing by the Russian Aerospace Forces Chief of Staff and calling for improvements in identifying the location of Ukrainian missiles.

During last month’s brief revolt, the head of Wagner’s mercenaries repeatedly denounced Gerasimov, who serves as chief of staff for the Russian armed forces, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for denying supplies to their fighters in Ukraine.

Prigozhin, and his mercenary forces entered the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on June 23 and seized control of the South Russian Military Command headquarters. Wagner’s forces also advanced toward Moscow, meeting little resistance

Prigozhin claimed that the uprising was not directed against President Vladimir Putin, but against Gerasimov and other top brass who, according to him, were mismanaging the war in Ukraine.

The rebellion ended on June 24 with an agreement brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to which Wagner’s forces would return to their bases and Prigozhin would move to Belarus.

Gerasimov had not appeared in public since the rebellion until the video was released on Monday.

In a Russian Defense Ministry video, the officers briefed Gerasimov on a Ukrainian attempt to hit Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula on Sunday.

General Viktor Afzalov informed Gerasimov that Russian air defense had shot down three Ukrainian S-200 missiles. “There are no casualties and no damage,” Afzalov declared.

The missiles were aimed at the Kerch bridge, which links Russia with Crimea, and at the Morozovsk airfield in the Rostov border region. Two other missiles were electronically disabled, Gerasimov was told.

Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had been the target of harsh criticism from Prigozhin for months before the attempted rebellion.

Since the failed mutiny, there has been speculation about the possibility of a reshuffling of the Russian military leadership. Uncertainty remains about the fate of General Sergei Surovikin, who is considered a Wagner sympathizer.

Surovikin, who officially remains Gerasimov’s deputy and commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, did not appear in the images released Monday.

Also this Monday, the Kremlin confirmed the journalistic versions of a meeting between Putin and Prigozhin, held at the end of June in Moscow.

The updates on Monday seemed like an attempt by Moscow to seize control of the narrative after a turbulent period.