Wagner Group boss offered to reveal troop positions to Kyiv

Wagner Group boss offered to reveal troop positions to Kyiv

The founder of the Wagner mercenary group repeatedly offered to betray Russian troop positions to Kyiv if Ukrainian forces agreed to pull out of Bakhmut, according to a bombshell leak.

Secret documents disclosed on the instant messaging platform Discord detailed Yevgeny Prigozhin’s alleged attempts to sell out Russian regulars as part of a quid-pro-quo deal with Ukrainian intelligence, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The newspaper reported, citing the leaks, that the head of Vladimir Putin’s private army made the offers in January, nearly a full year into the war. In return, Prigozhin reportedly wanted Ukrainian troops to leave Bakhmut in the east, which Wagner fighters have been battling to capture for the past nine months.

According to the publication, Ukraine’s federal intelligence agency, known as HUR, ultimately decided to reject Prigozhin’s overtures because it did not trust Putin’s crony to deliver on his promises.

Prigozhin on Monday dismissed the claims laid out in the Washington Post’s article as “nonsense,” while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed it was a “hoax.”

Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin leaves
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, has been accused of offering to reveal Russian troop positions to Ukrainian intelligence in exchange for a Bakhmut withdrawal.

Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon near Bakhmut, an eastern city where fierce battles against Russian forces have been taking place, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 15, 2023.
Prigozhin allegedly made the offer in January as his fighters were leading the campaign to capture the eastern Ukrainian city.

Wagner fighters, tens of thousands of whom have been drawn from Russia’s sprawling prison system, have been leading the bloody campaign to seize Bakhmut, which has been dubbed a “meat grinder” due to the intensity of the fighting.

Prigozhin has emerged as a vocal critic of Russia’s military establishment, publicly accusing top brass of betraying his men by denying them sufficient quantities of ammunition, resulting in unusually high casualty rates.

Prigozhin’s feud with the defense ministry escalated to a new level earlier this month, when he threatened to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut ahead of Russia’s May 9 Victory Day celebrations.

Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin makes a statement as he stand next to Wagner fighters in an undisclosed location
Prigozhin has been openly feuding with top Russian military officials and earlier this month threatened to pull his men out of Bakhmut, citing a lack of ammunition.

Prigozhin ultimately backpedaled on his threat to pull his forces out of the city, but he has continued haranguing military brass about supply issues, and last week blasted Russian regular troops for abandoning their positions on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut.

Over the past seven days, Ukrainian forces have made their biggest gains in six months, recapturing territory in and around Bakhmut while pushing the enemy back.

“The advance of our troops along the Bakhmut direction is the first success of offensive actions in the defense of Bakhmut,” Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of ground forces, said in a statement on the Telegram app.

Ukrainian tanks ride near Bakhmut, an eastern city where fierce battles against Russian forces have been taking place, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 12, 2023.
Ukrainian forces have made their most significant gains in six months in and around Bakhmut.

“The last few days have shown that we can move forward and destroy the enemy even in such extremely difficult conditions,” he said. “We are fighting with fewer resources than the enemy. At the same time, we are able to ruin its plans.”

In an audio message posted by his press service on Telegram Monday, Prigozhin suggested that the story about his alleged offer to betray Russian positions to the enemy might have been concocted by his enemies within Russia.

“Who is behind this? I think that either some journalists decided to hype, or comrades from Rublyovka have now decided to make up a beautiful, planted story,” he said, referring to an upscale Moscow neighborhood known as the home of Russia’s moneyed business elite.

Prigozhin also denied having met Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukrainian military intelligence, in an unspecified country in Africa, as mentioned in one of the leaked files cited by the Washington Post.

In this handout image taken from a video released by Prigozhin Press Service on Friday, May 12, 2023,
Prigozhin dismissed the report about his alleged quid-pro-quo deal as “nonsense” possibly planted by his enemies within Russia.

The paramilitary boss insisted he had not been on the continent since the start of the Ukraine invasion and portrayed the idea of a phone call with Budanov as laughable.

Peskov, Kremlin’s spokesperson, told journalists Monday that he could not comment on the Washington Post report, except to say, “It looks like another hoax.”

With Post wires

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