Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s chef,” directs and finances Private Military Company Wagner’s operations in Sudan, where, among other things, they mine gold to compensate for Russia’s economic losses due to Western sanctions.
This is stated in a journalistic investigation published by the New York Times on Sunday, Ukrinform reports.
It is noted that Wagner PMC which was previously considered simply as a group of Russian mercenaries performing military operations to order, has now grown into a network of mining companies.
The U.S. State Department also recognized Prigozhin as the owner of the Sudanese mining company Meroe Gold.
Wagner’s group is not only a supplier of assassins and mercenaries. Now it has become an instrument of the Kremlin power, thanks to which Russia makes money and replenishes its gold and foreign exchange reserves, the publication said.
Among Wagner’s operations, according to the inquiry, are obtaining profitable concessions for gold mining in Sudan, which could potentially help increase Russia’s gold reserves by $130 billion, which U.S. officials say are used to mitigate the impact of sanctions over Russia’s war against Ukraine.
According to the NYT, a week after the fall of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Prigozhin’s plane arrived in the capital Khartoum, carrying a Russian military delegation, and then returned to Moscow, bringing high-ranking Sudanese defense officials, including second operational support commander Rahid Abgalo Abdel – brother of the infamous field commander and leader of the forces Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.
The investigation also notes that on June 5, 2019, two days after the bloody massacre in Khartoum staged by operational support forces, Prigozhin’s Meroe Gold imported 13 tonnes of riot police shields, as well as helmets and batons for the company controlled by the family of General Hamdan.
It is noted that Russia intends to build a naval base in the Red Sea and deploy nuclear ships there. According to the publication, Wagner is helping Putin realize the said plans. To this end, Wagnerites engage in civil wars and conflicts.
In a written response to the newspaper’s inquiry, Prigozhin denied involvement in mining in Sudan, ownership of Meroe Gold, or any affiliation with the Wagner group.