Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, said on Friday that a “former general” of the American Marines was part of this private army, whose recruits were specifically fighting in Ukraine.
Answering a question from Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the Russian businessman replied: “There are not many Finnish citizens at Wagner PMC, about 20. For obvious reasons, I cannot provide accurate information about them.
“I have a very good impression of the Finns on the battlefield. They are fighting in a British battalion (part of Wagner) which is commanded by an American citizen, a former general in the Marine Corps,” Mr Prigogine was quoted as saying by the press service of his company Concorde.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s Cook” because of his catering group’s deals with the Kremlin, gained the reputation of becoming a billionaire because of the public contracts he won. It is subject to sanctions from the European Union and the United States.
In September, he revealed for the first time that he had set up Wagner in 2014 to fight in Ukraine and had identified the mercenary organization’s presence in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Wagner has been suspected for years of playing a role in furthering the Kremlin’s ambitions, including in Ukraine, where fighters from the paramilitary group are on the front lines of an offensive that began in February.
In early November, Wagner opened his first headquarters in Russia’s second city, St. Petersburg.