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Sanctioned Putin Ally Says He Created Russian Mercenary Group

  • Yevgeny Prigozhin says he formed Wagner to fight in Ukraine
  • Tycoon previously denied any ties to the military contractor
Yevgeny Prigozhin
Yevgeny PrigozhinPhotographer: Mikhail Metzel/TASS

A sanctioned Russian businessman linked to President Vladimir Putin has confirmed he created the Wagner private military contractor after years of denying any connection to the mercenary group.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said he founded the infamous group in May 2014 to send fighters to Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. “I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me,” he said Monday in a statement posted by his company on Russian social media.