Pentagon leaks won’t hurt Ukraine – Wagner boss
Leaked Pentagon documents contain no strategic revelations that could harm Kiev, and the media attention they have received looks like an attempt by the West to buy time for the Ukrainian military’s much-anticipated “spring offensive,” Wagner Group head Evgeny Prigozhin claimed on Friday.
“The documents by themselves do not pose any strategic danger,” Prigozhin said in a statement posted on social media, describing their published contents as mostly being based on open sources. “However, the leak was widely publicized and immediately after it, statements from sources close to the Pentagon began about the need to delay the offensive announced for April 15 until the summer.”
Commenting on the arrest of the alleged leaker, a 21-year-old Air National Guard member, Prigozhin added he may have been a fool or a dupe, but “if this leak had not happened, it would certainly have been invented.” The documents themselves, he emphasized, contain nothing that would add to the risks for the Ukrainian military should it launch its long-anticipated attack.
“It is clear that the military operations on Ukraine’s side are tactically directed by Ukrainian soldiers, but strategically by the so-called Western coalition, run by the UK and the US,” said Prigozhin.
He accused the West of “holding back” the Ukrainian military in a “dramatic pause,” after it had been assembled for a counter-offensive.
“The Ukrainians are ready to attack. We are ready to repel the blow,” Prigozhin summarized. “No negotiations. Only an honorable battle. And the sooner it starts, the better.”
Founded by the businessman, who was previously better known for catering enterprises in St. Petersburg, Wagner has been involved in heavy fighting in the Donbass, most recently in the storming of Soledar and the battles in and around Artyomovsk, called Bakhmut by the Ukrainians.
As of Friday, Wagner and other Russian troops hold most of Artyomovsk, with an estimated 6,000 battered Ukrainian troops attempting to retreat westward to Chasov Yar. Prigozhin has suggested that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky had thrown his best troops and foreign mercenaries into the battle for the Donbass town after receiving a personal challenge from Wagner in December, losing thousands in the “meat grinder” with nothing to show for it.