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ISW: Allegations of Ukrainian contacts may contribute to efforts to discredit Wagner chief
The recent allegations of Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s contact with Ukrainian intelligence may contribute to the Kremlin’s efforts to publicly discredit Prigozhin in the long term, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
On May 15, The Washington Post reported on the leaked U.S. intelligence documents claiming that Prigozhin offered to give Russian troop locations to Ukraine in exchange for the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast.
D.C.-based think tank mentioned that the revelations are unlikely to prompt an immediate removal of Prigozhin or direct Kremlin threats due to the Wagner group’s strategic location on the frontline in Bakhmut.
“The Kremlin likely suspects or is aware of Prigozhin’s reported communications with Ukrainian intelligence and likely was not blindsided by The Washington Post report or the leaked US intelligence documents,” the report said.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s formal efforts to distance himself from the activities of the Wagner group would also complicate the possible removal process.
The assessment reported on a mixed reception of the news within Russia, with some officials and military bloggers dismissing the allegations of the cooperation.
According to ISW, Prigozhin’s alleged actions would be aimed against the Russian Ministry of Defense, as he tried “to win Putin’s favor” by attempting to deliver a rapid victory in Bakhmut.