Yevgeny Prigozhin, who hasn’t been seen in public since he launched a short-lived mutiny between June 23 and 24, is likely “floating around” and is believed to have ‘gone for tea with Putin’, the MI6 chief has said.
Asked about the whereabouts of the Russian warlord, Sir Richard Moore said: “As far we can tell Prigozhin is floating around.”
The Wagner Group chief, Sir Richard added, is believed to have gone to have tea with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent days.
He commented: “These things are mysterious even for me.”
Mr Prigozhin, who was dubbed “Putin’s chef” due to his connection to the Kremlin and his catering empire, launched a mutiny against Russian military leadership in late June.
During a chaotic weekend, his mercenary troops easily took over the city of Rostov, which hosts a key military command for the Ukraine war and started marching towards Moscow.
A few hours later, however, Mr Prigozhin agreed to call off his soldiers after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal which would see the warlord relocating to Minsk in order in exchange for criminal charges against him and his soldiers to be dropped.
Mr Prigozhin was last seen in person as he was leaving Rostov in a vehicle in the late hours of June 24, acclaimed by many locals.
A few days later, Mr Lukashenko claimed the Wagner Group head was flying to Belarus.
But, further deepening the mystery, the Belarusian president said in early July Mr Prigozhin was not in his country.
On June 29, Putin and Mr Prigozhin held a three-hour meeting, the Kremlin claimed earlier this month, although it didn’t provide any photographic evidence of the encounter.
Since the attempted coup, the Wagner Group leader released a few audio messages via Telegram, but never showed his face in video or pictures.
Sir Richard also spoke about the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and urged Russians “appalled” by the horrific conflict to “join hands with us” and garner intelligence for the UK.
Speaking at the British embassy, he said: “I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open.
“We will handle their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which our service is famed.
“Their secrets will always be safe with us and together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end.”