I found the notorious Wagner mercenary battalion, confirms for the first time the Russian oligarch nicknamed “the leader of Putin”
- Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed that he founded the Wagner Group in 2014
- This is the first time an oligarch dubbed Putin’s leader has admitted to leading the group
- Prigozhin said he was “proud” of bringing together “a group of patriots”
- Wagner accused of atrocities in Ukraine, the Middle East, Africa and South America
A Russian oligarch nicknamed “Putin’s boss” has confirmed for the first time that he founded the famous Wagner group.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose other business provides catering services to the Kremlin, said he founded the mercenary unit during Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
The group has since gained a reputation for doing the Russian military’s dirty work, leaving a trail of brutal violence, rape and war crimes in its wake.
It is known to have operated on battlefields from Europe to the Middle East, South America and Africa.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch nicknamed ‘Putin’s boss’ (left, recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine) admitted to founding the notorious Wagner mercenary group
Prigozhin (left), whose other company provides catering to the Kremlin, said he was “proud” to have brought together “a group of patriots” to help Ukraine in 2014.
“I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me with this,” Prigozhin said in a statement published by his restoration company Concord on the site. Russian social media company, VKontakte.
“From that moment, May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born, which would later be called the Wagner Battalion. I am proud to have been able to defend their right to protect the interests of their country.
Prigozhin has long denied any association with Wagner and has threatened to sue journalists who report on his involvement with the group.
For years after its creation, the Russian government refused to even acknowledge the existence of the group.
However, after its members were frequently spotted on the front lines in Ukraine, the name was mentioned in state media.
Wagner’s first deployment was to the front lines in eastern Ukraine in 2014 – where they helped Russian-backed separatist groups fight the country’s new government following a revolution in 2013 that overthrew the Kremlin-friendly president.
They have since traveled to Libya – fighting for warlord Khalifa Haftar against the Western-backed Government of National Accord – and Syria, alongside the forces of dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Wagner is known to have operated in Ukraine (pictured), Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic and Mali, and has been charged with war crimes in each of these locations.
Russia is believed to have lost tens of thousands of soldiers fighting in Ukraine, with Wagner also suffering heavy casualties (pictured, Russian tanks destroyed)
They have also been deployed in the Central African Republic where they have been accused of rape, robbery and torture against unarmed civilians, and are currently deployed in Mali where they have been accused of massacres of civilians.
Wagner recruited largely from the regular Russian army, often clashing with those expelled from its ranks.
However, after suffering many casualties in the fighting in Ukraine, Prigozhin began recruiting from Russian prisons.
Recent footage shows Prigozhin telling trained men in an exercise yard that if they fight for him in Ukraine for six months, their sentences will be excused.
Those he targets include murderers, sex offenders and burglars, according to local media.
‘It’s a tough war, not even close to the likes of [Chechnya] and the others,” he told them on video.
“My ammunition consumption is two and a half times higher than in the Battle of Stalingrad”, – where there were almost two million casualties.