Report: Wagner Chief Sought Secret Deal With Ukraine

'Washington Post' reports that Prigozhin offered to reveal Russian troop positions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2023 2:14 PM CDT
Report: Wagner Chief Offered to Betray Russia
In this handout image taken from a video released by Prigozhin Press Service on Friday, May 5, 2023, head of Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin stands in front of multiple bodies lying on the ground in an unknown location.   (Prigozhin Press Service via AP)

The chief of the Wagner Group told Ukrainian officials earlier this year that he would give Kyiv information on Russian troop positions in return for Ukrainian forces withdrawing from the Bakhmut area, the Washington Post reports, citing what it says are previously unreported intelligence files leaked on Discord. The proposal, which would have given the mercenary group a victory to claim while making it easier for Ukraine to attack regular Russian forces, was sent from Yevgeniy Prigozhin to his contacts in Ukrainian military intelligence, the Post reports.

Sources tell the Post that Ukrainian authorities rejected Prigozhin's proposals in January, doubting his motives and his trustworthiness. Wagner has taken extremely heavy casualties in the long fight for Bakhmut, and Prigozhin has often criticized Russian military leadership. Earlier this month, he threatened to pull his forces out of Bakhmut because the "scum" leading the military weren't sending enough ammunition. In other leaked documents, Russian defense officials discussed how to respond to Prigozhin's remarks, "which they apparently conceded were not illegitimate grievances," the Post reports.

In a message on Telegram, Prigozhin called the report "nonsense" and suggested Russian elites were targeting him, Reuters reports. The Kremlin also rejected the report, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying it "looks like the latest hoax." (The leaks also show that Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelensky is surprisingly aggressive with military strategy.)

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