Russian President Vladimir Putin has met one of the most senior ex-commanders of the Wagner mercenary group, who the Kremlin says now works for the defence ministry.
Andrei Troshev is a former aide of late Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash in August.
His death came two months after Wagner troops briefly marched on Moscow.
President Putin asked Mr Troshev to oversee volunteer fighter units in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.
Addressing Mr Troshev, the president said he could "volunteer units that can perform various combat tasks, above all, of course, in the zone of a special military operation", in reference to Ukraine.
"You know about the issues that need to be resolved in advance so that the combat work goes in the best and most successful way," Mr Putin added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA news agency that Mr Troshev "now works in the defence ministry".
The meeting comes as Mr Putin attempts to reassert his authority following Wagner's mutiny in June.
In the space of just 24 hours, Prigozhin staged an insurrection, sending troops into the southern city of Rostov, then further on towards Moscow, before retreating. It was the biggest challenge to Mr Putin's authority in two decades.
The president last month called on all employees of Wagner and other Russian private military contractors to take an oath of allegiance to the Russian state.
Natia Seskuria of Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank, told the BBC that the meeting and public praise from Mr Putin is an attempt to show "he is in charge of the situation and he controls Prigozhin's inner circle".
"The fact that the Kremlin's spokesperson confirmed that Troshev works for the Russian Ministry of Defence demonstrates that we are in a post-Progozhin era where the MOD is taking a full control of the so-called special military operation in Ukraine," she said.
The Kremlin "will still be relying on Wagner resources with greater caution", she added.
Mr Troshev is known by his alias Sedoi, which means "the one with grey hair". He is a well-respected veteran of Russia's wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
He was awarded the Hero of Russia Award for his role in supporting government forces in Syria in 2015 and 2016 as Wagner commander.
Prigozhin and nine others were killed in the crash near Moscow on 23 August.
The Wagner boss was described by many as a "dead man walking" after the failed mutiny.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
On Thursday, Moscow announced a 68% increase in its defence budget as the Ukraine war grinds on.
The military budget will reach 10.8 trillion rubles (£90bn) in 2024 - which is 6% of GDP.