The Wagner Group is fully funded by the Kremlin and received tens of billions of rubles in public money over the past year, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday, days after the paramilitary group’s aborted attempt at a coup.
“I want to point out and I want everyone to know about it: The maintenance of the entire Wagner Group was fully provided for by the state,” Putin said at a meeting with officials from the Russian defense ministry, according to state-owned newswires TASS and Ria Novosti. “From the Ministry of Defense, from the state budget, we fully financed this group.”
From May 2022 to May 2023, the Russian state paid more than 86 billion rubles (approximately $940 million) to the Wagner Group, Putin said. POLITICO was not able to independently verify that claim.
This is the first time the Russian president has acknowledged publicly the group was funded by the Russian state.
The Wagner paramilitary group, created in 2014 by the oligarch-turned-warlord-turned-mutineer Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been involved in some of the fiercest fighting of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and is active in various locations in Africa and the Middle East.
But the group is currently in shambles, after Wagner troops, led by Prigozhin, turned against Russia’s military leadership last weekend, bringing the country to the verge of a civil war.
Wagner’s mutiny ended with Prigozhin striking a deal with the Kremlin and Minsk, under which all fighters involved in the rebellion would avoid prosecution, while the neutered warlord would flee to Belarus.
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