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Washington Post: Leaked US intelligence suggests Prigozhin in contact with Ukrainian intelligence
Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin allegedly offered to give Russian troop locations to Ukraine in exchange for Ukrainian forces withdrawing from the area around Bakhmut, the Washington Post reported on May 15, citing leaked U.S. intelligence documents.
According to the Washington Post, Prigozhin made the offer in an effort to prevent rising casualty rates among Wagner troops in Bakhmut, which has been the epicenter of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces for the past nine months.
Wagner mercenaries have served as the primary shock troops in Russia's attempts to expand its control over Donetsk Oblast. However, they have only made incremental gains, with Ukraine still holding parts of the city.
Two Ukrainian officials confirmed to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity that Prigozhin has been in contact "several times" with Ukraine's Intelligence Directorate.
However, Ukraine rejected Prigozhin's offer "more than once" because officials "don't trust Prigozhin and thought his proposals could have been disingenuous."
The tensions between Wagner and the Russian Defense Ministry have intensified since January.
On May 5, Prigozhin threatened to withdraw Wagner forces by May 10 from Bakhmut because "in the absence of (sufficient) ammunition" his troops were "condemned to a senseless death."
On May 9, Prigozhin announced that he had been informed Wagner forces would be deemed "traitors against the motherland" if they abandoned their positions.
Prigozhin continues to accuse the Kremlin of deliberately depriving his troops of ammunition and equipment.