A social media account linked to Russia’s Wagner private military company has posted a recording purportedly of the mercenary group’s leader saying that it would pause recruiting new fighters and would focus on activities in Africa and in Russia’s neighbor, Belarus.
The recording appeared to signal that the unruly mercenary force would continue to operate, albeit on a smaller scale, after staging a short-lived mutiny last month because of a dispute over Moscow’s handling of the war in Ukraine.
The status of Wagner has been shrouded in speculation ever since Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the group’s pugnacious founder, led the uprising, an attempt to topple the Russian defense leadership.
In a recorded statement published by a Wagner-linked channel on the Telegram app on Monday, a voice that appeared to be Mr. Prigozhin’s said that the group’s members were currently figuring out “their next tasks.”
He said that many Wagner fighters were taking time off following a period of “very intense work,” and that some had joined Russian law enforcement agencies.
“As long as we don’t experience a shortage in personnel, we don’t plan to carry out a new recruitment campaign,” the recording said. “As soon as the motherland would need to create a new additional group that would be able to defend the interests of our country,” it added, “we would begin recruiting.”
The recording followed a statement posted Sunday on a Telegram channel dedicated to Wagner recruitment that said that its regional centers in Russia would cease operations “indefinitely.”
Mr. Prigozhin’s whereabouts and status also have been the subject of questions. He appears to still have the ability to travel to Russia — last week, unverified images appeared to show him meeting with African leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia, where President Vladimir V. Putin was hosting a summit — but his media empire there has largely been dismantled, and Russian state news media have portrayed him as a reckless thug.
Mr. Prigozhin has toned down his public activity, releasing only occasional comments and quieting his criticism of Russia’s military brass.