Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and close ally of Vladimir Putin, admitted Monday that he is behind the Wagner paramilitary group.
Rights activists have accused the group – a private network of mercenaries – of committing war crimes in Ukraine, Syria and Libya.
Putin has long denied any connection between the Kremlin and Wagner. But Prigozhin’s confession finally links Wagner directly to the Russian government.
In a post on the social media profile of the Concorde Group, a catering company half owned by Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch said he founded the Wagner Group to send competent fighters to the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine in 2014, the same year. Russia annexed the Crimea.
Prigozhin, better known as “President Putin” For hosting a dinner attended by Putin and other Kremlin officials, they called Wagner mercenaries “patriots.”
And now confession […] These men, the heroes, defended the Syrian people, the peoples of other Arab countries, poor Africans and Latin America, and they became a pillar of our homeland,” he wrote, acknowledging that the group is involved in chilling operations in Syria, Mali, Libya and others.
For these countries and more, the European Union found that the Wagner Group recruited, trained and dispatched mercenaries to “fuel violence, pillage natural resources and terrorize civilians in violation of international law, including international human rights law.”
Although Prigozhin’s statement testifies to the presence of the Wagner Group in Ukraine in 2014, it necessarily confirms their presence in the country now.
But in late March, the British Ministry of Defense announced in an intelligence update that around 1,000 Wagner mercenaries, including the organization’s top leaders, had been deployed to eastern Ukraine to fight in support of Russian forces.