Now former Wagner fighters have scattered to different jurisdictions.
The meeting between the Russian president and Andrei Troshev, one of the former leaders of the Wagner group, demonstrated that the Russian leadership did not really intend to get rid of the so-called private military companies.
"What could really irritate Russian president Vladimir Putin himself and the heads of the Russian Defence Ministry was the excessive independence of the Wagner group leaders, which during the war against Ukraine began to acquire threatening proportions," Ukrainian publicist Vitaly Portnikov wrote for Radio Svaboda.
Wagner head Yevgeniy Prigozhin has allowed himself to criticize Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov in public. And during the last period of acute confrontation between the heads of Wagner and the Ministry of Defence, Prigozhin was not afraid to criticise even Putin himself.
And the Wagner military company was not created for this purpose at all, but primarily as a stage set to hide the real role of the Russian leadership and special services in other countries. After all, when the idea of a "private company" arose, the Kremlin was still thinking about its own reputation and did not want to take responsibility for crimes in African states or Syria.
When the war in Ukraine started, the Wagner company also agreed. The regular army simply did not have the opportunity to use compatriots as "cannon fodder" so blatantly.
And Prigozhin had the opportunity to recruit future Wagner fighters directly in colonies and prisons, which suited Putin perfectly and helped to reduce the degree of social tension around the war. The situation in which a mercenary leader would think that he could compete with Russia's leaders was certainly not part of the Russian president's plans.
So now, when the leadership of the Wagner group has been killed in a so-called plane crash, Putin has an opportunity to return to the old model, but with guaranteed subordination to the Kremlin.
The Russian president no longer needs to think about his reputation after starting the war against Ukraine. But he does need new-old thugs to ensure the stability of African regimes willing to co-operate with Moscow and to help Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Well, on the Ukrainian front, mercenaries are also supposed to play their role as "cannon fodder" and the most experienced and brutal combatants.
However, now the actions of "volunteers" are to be led by an experienced FSB officer. Prigozhin clearly underestimated the role of this structure - the "home" of Putin and his closest associates.
However, whatever the plans of the Russian president are, once Prigozhin is destroyed and the "first" Wagner is actually disbanded, Andrey Troshev's group of mercenaries will no longer be a mafia-like organisation.
Now the former Wagner fighters have scattered to different jurisdictions. Some have enlisted in the alternative "Redut" private military company, among the sponsors of which journalists named oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Gennady Timchenko. Some of them became fighters of the Rosgvardia, and another part is still in military camps in Belarus - perhaps these people are being trained for a possible hybrid war against NATO countries. And they can no longer be gathered under the command of the "new Prigozhin", so Andrey Troshev will have to find his own mercenaries and train them for new ventures.