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Russian businessman claims credit score for Wagner group

Dubbed ‘Putin’s chef’ within the West, Yevgeny Prigozhin has lengthy been linked to the group

The Wagner group are Russian patriots and top-notch navy professionals, and it’s time they had been acknowledged as such, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin has mentioned, whereas taking credit score for founding the group.

Prigozhin admitted his connection to the group of Russian non-public navy contractors on Monday in an announcement launched by the press service of his firm.

The unit began in 2014 as his private challenge to fund a preventing pressure to intervene in Ukraine’s civil warfare on the facet of Donetsk and Lugansk areas, Prigozhin claimed. He mentioned he was considered one of a number of rich folks in Russia, who had been prepared to take a position their cash to “defend Russians” from Kiev, however didn’t belief anybody else to make use of the assets the way in which he wished.

“On May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born, which was later named the Wagner group. Their valor and courage made possible the liberation of Lugansk airport and other territories and played a pivotal role in the fate of the two regions,” he mentioned. Russia has since acknowledged the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as sovereign states.

For years Prigozhin denied any reference to the Wagner group. He mentioned he was attempting to protect it from doable repercussions and accused journalists of attempting to “find dirt” on members of the group.

Wagner fighters had been at all times on shaky floor and didn’t have many job alternatives in civilian life, the businessman added. An assault staff commander would discover it exhausting being employed “by a cranky oligarch, whose wife would make him carry her bags while shopping,” he mentioned.

“Those brave fellows knew one thing – fighting to defend those in need, putting their lives on the line on the side of good and justice,” the businessman mentioned. “Live up to the code, do what you must, come what may.”

Prigozhin mentioned he believed it was time for the fighters to get recognition for what they did for Russia in addition to for folks in Syria, different Arab nations, Africa and Latin America.

Western officers have described the Wagner group as a device of Russian overseas coverage that offers Moscow believable deniability. Critics declare that Prigozhin has private ties to the Kremlin. The businessman owns a catering service that gained some authorities contracts, and earned him the moniker “Putin’s chef” within the Western media. Moscow denied claims that the Wagner group acts on its behalf.

Over the years, Wagner fighters have reportedly been concerned in operations in Libya, Mali, Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic, amongst others. Some of its members had been arrested in 2020 in Belarus on their technique to the Middle East in what was allegedly a failed plot by Ukrainian intelligence to intercept their aircraft and seize them.

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