Profile: Andrey Troshev, the “grey” bureaucrat tasked with managing the new Wagner
Andrey Troshev is a senior figure in Russian PMC Wagner. He oversees units in Ukraine but may struggle to command the loyalty of fighters.
Andrey Troshev (“Sedoy”, meaning grey) is a former executive director of the Russian private military company (PMC) the Wagner Group who has been tasked by Russian President Vladimir Putin with overseeing “volunteer units” in Ukraine. He split with late Wagner owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin in the aftermath of the latter’s attempted ‘coup’ on 23-24 June 2023. He will coordinate closely with the Russian Ministry of Defence, but there are doubts over his ability to command the respect of Wagner fighters – and over how much of the old Wagner he will actually be responsible for.
Date profile information last updated: 6 October 2023
Wagner leader Troshev’s profile, at a glance
- Putin tasks Wagner leader Troshev with overseeing ‘volunteer units’ in Ukraine
- Troshev’s challenges: Can he control Wagner and, if so, how much of it?
- Troshev’s key relationships, inside and outside Wagner
- Troshev’s biography: The road to Wagner
- Controversies and incidents: Wagner leader Troshev drunk in St Petersburg
- Digital Troshev: A Wagner leader with a limited online presence
- International response: Wagner leader Troshev on the sanctions list
Putin tasks Wagner leader Troshev with overseeing ‘volunteer units’ in Ukraine
In the aftermath of the 23-24 June ‘coup attempt’ – which saw Prigozhin lead Wagner fighters on a march across Russia (2) – Putin met with 35 Wagner commanders in the Kremlin on 29 June. According to Andrey Kolesnikov, correspondent for business daily Kommersant, Putin offered participants in the meeting “several variants for future employment, including under the leadership of their immediate commander with the call sign Sedoy. That is, under the leadership that Wagner fighters have served for the last 16 months.” Kolesnikov directly quoted Putin as describing Troshev as “their real commander all this time” (3).
Troshev meets Putin, Yevkurov in Kremlin
On 28 September, Putin – this time accompanied by Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-bek Yevkurov – again met with Troshev in the Kremlin. Referencing the June meeting, Putin said that he had tasked Troshev with overseeing “volunteer units” operating in Ukraine (4). Russian and international media reported widely on the meeting, viewing it as part of a move by Putin “to reassert his authority” over the Wagner Group following the June events and Prigozhin’s death in a plane crash on 23 August (5). Troshev becomes the means by which he achieves this goal, acting as the de facto new leader of Wagner – in Ukraine, at least. At the same time, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitriy Peskov confirmed that Troshev is now an employee of the Defence Ministry, although he did not provide further details on his role (6). As such, Troshev enjoys less formal independence than Prigozhin and now appears to formally answer to Yevkurov.
Troshev’s challenges: Can he control Wagner and, if so, how much of it?
There are two main questions surrounding Troshev’s new role: Whether he can command the loyalty of Wagner fighters, and whether he will attempt to assert control over Wagner’s operations beyond Ukraine. The second question forms part of a much broader question as to whether the post-coup, post-Prigozhin Wagner is really the same actor.
Troshev’s loyalty challenge
On the first question, a prominent Wagner commander and pro-Wagner Telegram channels have criticised Troshev for his apparent decision not to back the ‘coup attempt’ and instead side with the Defence Ministry. Anton Yelizarov (Lotos), a member of Wagner’s Council of Commanders, described Troshev as “an old-aged staff officer” who was “never a commander” or a member of the Council. He argued that Troshev was the only person to leave Wagner after the ‘coup attempt,’ characterising rumours that the majority of Wagner commanders had joined him as “just a dream of the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation” (7) The Grey Zone channel likewise asserted that Troshev was not a member of the Council and said he had been engaged in “staff duties that were not linked to planning military operations.” Grey Zone also accused Troshev of providing information on Wagner to the investigative outlet Dossier Center, funded by Mikhail Khodorkovskiy (8). The VChK-OGPU channel claimed that Prigozhin considered him a “traitor” for his position (9), and Putin himself indicated that Prigozhin opposed his proposal at the 29 June meeting (10). On the other hand, Valeriy Retunskiy, a retired senior military officer, opined in an interview with the Moskovskiy Komsomolets newspaper that Troshev’s experience in Wagner’s headquarters should not be downplayed, as it would give him a unique understanding of how Wagner operates (11).
Will Troshev’s control extend beyond Ukraine?
On the second question, Telegram channel Rybar, run by Mikhail Zvinchuk, claimed that Wagner fighters have already started to return to the front lines in Bakhmut under Troshev’s command. It also claimed that Troshev is “continuing to agitate among fighters of the PMC who are in action on the Belarussian and African-Middle Eastern fronts.” However, it reported that Lotus retains control of most of Wagner’s fighters, and that they might seek to sign contracts with Rosgvardia instead of the Defence Ministry (12). Investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta opined that it was unlikely that the Kremlin would view Troshev as a candidate to take over Wagner’s operations abroad, but did not elaborate further (13). It is worth noting that Troshev’s relationship with the Defence Ministry has not always been without friction: The Kepka Prigozhina Telegram channel cited him as disputing the ministry’s claim to have helped capture Soledar, which he characterised as the exclusive achievement of Wagner (14).
The broader question of Wagner’s future
The broader issue of whether the Wagner Group remains the same entity after Prigozhin’s death largely falls outside the scope of this profile. Nevertheless, Pavel Aksenov, military correspondent for the BBC’s Russian Service, argued that Troshev’s “personal ties with the state leadership, his ‘administrative weight’” will allow Troshev to counterbalance the mainstream military leadership (15). At the same time, the more closely aligned Wagner becomes with formal military structures, the more it will lose its raison d’etre – and what Aksenov characterised as freedom from the mistakes and systemic problems that have plagued the Russian military in Ukraine. Wagner is of course not the only Russian PMC, and Russia is continually experimenting with new units and approaches.
Troshev’s key relationships, inside and outside Wagner
The relationships explained
|The Wagner Group||Troshev served as the Russian PMC’s executive director (chief of staff) prior to the June 2023 ‘coup attempt’ (16, 17).|
|League for the Protection of the Interests of the Veterans of Local Wars and Armed Conflicts||Troshev co-founded the Wagner-linked organisation with Oleg Erokhin and served as its head until his removal in June 2023 (18).|
|Concord (Prigozhin-linked)||Denis Korotkov argued that he could have been an employee of the company in his early days with Wagner/Prigozhin (19).|
|Rodina party (Prigozhin-linked) ||Troshev ran in the 2021 St Petersburg legislative assembly elections as a candidate for the Prigozhin-linked party (20).|
|Russian President Vladimir Putin||Troshev met with Putin in the Kremlin on 29 June 2023 (21) and 28 September 2023 (22).|
|Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-bek Yevkurov||Troshev met with Yevkurov at the 28 September 2023 Kremlin meeting and likely answers to him within his new role in the Defence Ministry (23).|
|St Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Beglov||Troshev wrote to Beglov as head of the League to complain about the authorities’ refusal to allow Wagner fighters to be buried in a St Petersburg cemetery (24).|
|Wagner owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin||In his capacity as Wagner executive director, Troshev acted as de facto aide to Prigozhin, and he is linked to Prigozhin through many of the other relationships detailed here.|
|Wagner commander Dmitriy Utkin (Wagner)||According to flight logs and other investigative reporting, Troshev travelled with Utkin in 2015-2016 (25, 26). The nature of leaked phone recordings between the two in 2015 indicate that Utkin was subordinate to Troshev within Wagner (27). Utkin, Troshev, Bogatev and Kuznetsov were all photographed together at a Kremlin award ceremony in December 2016 (28, 29).|
|Oleg Erokhin||Erokhin co-founded the League with Troshev (30).|
|Wagner commander Anton Yelizarov (Lotos)||Yelizarov has been an outspoken critic of Troshev, although available reporting does not indicate whether the two are personally acquainted (31).|
|Wagner commander Andrey Bogatov||Utkin, Troshev, Bogatev and Kuznetsov were all photographed together at a Kremlin award ceremony in December 2016 (32, 33).|
|Wagner commander Aleksandr Kuznetsov||Utkin, Troshev, Bogatev and Kuznetsov were all photographed together at a Kremlin award ceremony in December 2016 (34, 35).|
|Wagner commander Aleksey Dmitriyev||Flight logs show that Troshev, Dmitriyev, and Ivannikov travelled together between Krasnodar and Moscow in mid-2015 (36).|
|Ruslan Mikhaylov, head of Wagner internal security||Troshev, Mikhaylov, and Yastreb were photographed together in Latakia, Syria in 2016 (37).|
|Wagner fighter Aleksandr Yastreb (Aziat)||Troshev, Mikhaylov, and Yastreb were photographed together in Latakia, Syria in 2016 (38).|
|Oleg Ivannikov (Andrey Ivanovich Laptev), senior GRU officer||Flight logs show that Troshev, Dmitriyev, and Ivannikov travelled together between Krasnodar and Moscow in mid-2015 (39).|
No details known.
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Troshev’s biography: The road to Wagner
|Full name:||Andrey Nikolayevich Troshev|
|Variants and nicknames:||Sedoy; Siedoy; Sedoii; Седой; Andrei Mikolayvych Troshev; Андрій Миколайович Трошев; Андрей Николаевич Трошев; Andrei Troshev; Andrei Mykolayvych Troshev; Andrey Nikolaevich TROSHEV; Andrej Nikolajevitj Trosjev|
|Date of birth:||5 April 1962 (40). EU and UK sanctions documentation lists it as 5 April 1953 (41, 42), but appear to be the only sources to use this date.|
|Place of birth:||Leningrad (St Petersburg) (43)|
|Place of residence:||Unknown|
|Military/police rank:||Reserve colonel (police)|
|Awards||Hero of Russia (Syria, 2016) (44); two Orders of the Red Star (Afghanistan, 1980s) (45); two Orders of Courage and the Order for Services to the Fatherland Second Degree (Second Chechen War) (46)|
Leningrad Higher Artillery Command School (47).
Mikhaylovskaya Military Artillery Academy (48).
Russian Academy of State Service Under the President of the Russian Federation (49).
Troshev fought in the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the Second Chechen War. He subsequently became a member of the Special Purposes Mobile Unit (OMON) in St Petersburg and a commander of the Special Quick Response Unit (SOBR) of the Northwestern Federal District. He retired with the rank of police colonel in 2014 (50, 51, 52).
Troshev within Wagner
Denis Korotkov, an investigate reporter who specialises in Russian PMCs, claimed that Troshev travelled with key Wagner leader Dmitriy Utkin and other members of Prigozhin’s security detail in 2015-2016, and he opined that Troshev probably also worked for Prigozhin’s Concord company at that time (53). Korotkov described Troshev as the Wagner Group’s Executive Director (Chief of Staff) in both 2017 and 2023 (54, 55).
Troshev co-founded the League for the Protection of the Interests of the Veterans of Local Wars and Armed Conflicts, an organisation closely linked to Prigozhin and Wagner (56). On 30 June, shortly after the ‘coup attempt,’ the Razgruzka Vagnera Telegram channel posted an order dated the same day that stated that the Wagner Council of Commanders had replaced Troshev as head of the League with Dmitriy Podolskiy, another former Wagner commander (57). The state register of companies, however, only recorded the change on 8 September 2023 (59).
Troshev was involved in Wagner’s operations in Syria – he was reportedly awarded the Hero of Russia in 2016 for his role in the capture of Palmyra (59), and the EU sanctioned him for his activities in the country (60) – before coordinating Wagner activities in Ukraine (61).
Controversies and incidents: Wagner leader Troshev drunk in St Petersburg
Fontanka reported on an incident in June 2017, when Troshev ended up in a St Petersburg hospital in an “inadequate state” and in possession of R5 million, $5,000, maps of Syria, and purchase orders for equipment (62). The Grey Zone Telegram channel later claimed he had been drunk at the time (63).
Digital Troshev: A Wagner leader with a limited online presence
Troshev does not have any known social media accounts and generally appears to keep a low profile.
International response: Wagner leader Troshev on the sanctions list
Troshev was sanctioned by the EU under its Syria programme on 12/13 December 2021. The designation decision said that he “is directly involved in the military operations of the Wagner Group in Syria. He was particularly involved in the area of Deir ez-Zor. As such, he provides a crucial contribution to Bashar al-Assad’s war effort and therefore supports and benefits from the Syrian regime” (64).
Troshev was sanctioned by Ukraine on 26 February 2022 for his activities in the country (65).
The UK imposed an asset freeze and travel ban under the The Syria (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 on 29/6/22, on the grounds that Troshev was Chief Executive of the Wagner Group and “Therefore, he has supported the Syrian regime, was a member of a militia, and has repressed the civilian population in Syria” (66).
Troshev does not appear on the US Department of Treasury’s list of sanctioned individuals.
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(2) See Threatologist. 26 July 2023. Threatologist Eurasia special: A war of illusions, or Prigozhin and the limits of OSINT. https://threatologist.com/?na=view&id=41.
(3) Andrey Kolesnikov. Kommersant. 13 July 2023. Путин рассказал «Ъ» подробности встречи с бойцами ЧВК «Вагнер». Accessed at https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/6098572 on 5 October 2023.
(4) President of Russia. 29 September 2023. Встреча с Юнус-Беком Евкуровым и Андреем Трошевым. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/72391.
(5) BBC News. 30 September 2023. Putin meets former Wagner commander Andrei Troshev. Accessed at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-66957307 on 6 October 2023.
(6) Anastasiya Larina. Kommersant. 29 September 2023. Песков прокомментировал возможное возвращение ЧВК «Вагнер» на спецоперацию. Accessed at https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/6250426 on 2 October 2023.
(7) Razgruzka Vagnera. Telegram. 14 August 2023. Untitled post. Accessed at https://t.me/razgruzka_vagnera/269 on 5 October 2023.
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(10) Kolesnikov. Kommersant. 13 July 2023.
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(12) Rybar. Telegram. 26 September 2023. Untitled post. Accessed at https://t.me/rybar/52382 on 6 October 2023.
(13) Fokina. Novaya Gazeta. 6 September 2023.
(14) Fontanka.ru. 14 January 2023. А у нас тут своя спецоперация. Как официальные лица сообщают стране противоположные новости. Accessed at https://www.fontanka.ru/2023/01/14/71974430/ on 5 October 2023.
(15) BBC Russian Service. 29 September 2023. Путин предложил бывшему командиру «Вагнера» набирать «добровольцев». Это новый «Вагнер» внутри Минобороны? Acccessed at https://www.bbc.com/russian/articles/cw0k5nypydlo on 5 October 2023.
(16) Denis Korotkov. Fontanka.ru. 21 August 2017.
(17) Denis Korotkov. Dossier Center. 20 February 2023.
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(21) Andrey Kolesnikov. Kommersant. 13 July 2023.
(22) President of Russia. 29 September 2023.
(23) President of Russia. 29 September 2023.
(24) Fontanka.ru . 13 December 2022. Бойцу ЧВК «Вагнер» отказали в захоронении на Аллее Славы в Петербурге, потому что такой аллеи нет. Accessed at https://www.fontanka.ru/2022/12/13/71893001/ on 5 October 2023.
(25) Denis Korotkov. Fontanka.ru. 12 December 2016.
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(27) Bellingcat. 14 August 2020.
(28) Novaya Gazeta. 19 January 2023.
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(30) Denis Korotkov. Fontanka.ru. 26 June 2016.
(31) Razgruzka Vagnera. Telegram. 14 August 2023.
(32) Novaya Gazeta. 19 January 2023.
(33) Denis Korotkov. Fontanka.ru. 21 August 2017.
(34) Novaya Gazeta. 19 January 2023.
(35) Denis Korotkov. Fontanka.ru. 21 August 2017.
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(49) Vazhnyye istorii. 29 September 2023.
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