Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday confirmed that the Wagner mercenary group was entirely funded by the state, from the budget of Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
According to Putin, the Russian government had paid out last year just over 86.262 billion rubles (approximately $940 million) to the shadowy mercenary army, which last week staged a failed mutiny.
“The state paid the Wagner group 86.262 billion rubles for salaries for fighters and incentive rewards between May 2022 and May 2023 alone,” Putin said.
“The Defense Ministry, the state budget fully financed this group,” he told a group of servicemen inside the Kremlin.
Putin has confirmed that it has effectively acted as an arm of the state.
The Wagner Group, also known as PMC Wagner, is a Russian paramilitary organization. It is variously described as a private military company, a network of mercenaries, or a de facto private army of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The New York Times described in last year Wanger company as really an arms-length unit of the Russian Ministry of Defence, which is used by the Russian government in conflicts where deniability is called for, as its forces are trained on Ministry of Defense installations.
Earlier, Putin and Moscow’s officials called it a lie that Wagner is affiliated with the Russian Defense Ministry and that the organization receives weapons and military vehicles, aircraft and special equipment from the regular army.
Before that, Wagner engaged mostly covertly in global hotspots including Ukraine, Syria and several African countries, while Prigozhin previously denied the group’s existence.
Wagner fighters have been accused of committing mass executions, rape, child abductions and torture in their areas of operation.