Russia denies news about Wagner chief sharing data with Kiev
Russia says the reports that came out about Wagner's leader pledging to share data about Russian soldiers' positions if he were to be handed Bakhmut by Ukraine.
Media reports alleging that Wagner commander Yevgeny Prigozhin was prepared to share data regarding the position of Russian troops with Ukraine are seemingly fake, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that US intelligence documents said Prigozhin offered Ukraine in late January to share sensitive information regarding the Russian armed forces, namely the positions of Russian troops, in exchange for Kiev withdrawing its soldiers from the area around the city of Bakhmut, otherwise known as Artyomovsk.
"It seems to be another fake news," Peskov told reporters.
Reports about the Wagner chief wanting to help Ukraine come after it was announced that the French parliament adopted a resolution regarding the classification of Wagner as a terrorist group.
The non-binding and symbolic resolution passed with unanimous support across the political spectrum.
Its author, Benjamin Haddad of the ruling party, expressed the hope that it would persuade the 27 EU nations to add Wagner to their official list of terrorist organizations.
He underlined that they were not "simple mercenaries" driven by an "appetite for money" but they "follow a broad strategy, from Mali to Ukraine, of supporting the aggressive policies of President (Vladimir) Putin's regime towards our democracies."
Wagner and its commander, Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin are already under numerous sanctions imposed by the European Union for alleged human rights abuses in Africa and participation in the Ukraine war effort.
Prigozhin had his assets in the European Union frozen in 2020 and was placed on a visa blacklist over the alleged deployment of Wagner fighters to Libya, which was brought to collapse by the United States and its NATO allies.
Moreover, reports that came out earlier in the month said Prigozhin requested that Moscow allow him to hand his forces' positions in Bakhmut to the Akhmat battalion led by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Prigozhin announced in a Telegram video that his forces will be withdrawing from Bakhmut City in Donbas on May 10, stating that the reason for this measure is that his units have been suffering significant losses due to a lack of artillery munitions and that they will be retreating to the rear camps to "lick their wounds."
Bakhmut, which is situated north of Donetsk, holds strategic significance for the course of the war. The city had long been the transportation route of food and supplies for the Ukrainian troops stationed in Donbass.
The Chechen commander said that if Wagner leaves Bakhmut then the "[Russian] General Staff will lose an experienced combat unit," however the Akhmat battalion is ready to replace the paramilitary group and "advance and take the city."