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Wagner PMC received $1bn in funding from the Russian government, Putin confirms

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The Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) is fully financed by the Russian government, according to a report by state-run media outlet RIA Novosti citing President Vladimir Putin’s address to military personnel at the Kremlin. According to Putin, from May 2022 to May 2023, the PMC received over 86 billion roubles ($1 billion) in funding from the Russian authorities.

Putin added that the owner of the PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin's company, Concord, earned 80 billion roubles ($935 million) a year by supplying food to the military. Over 110 billion roubles ($1.3 billion) were also spent on insurance payments, Putin said.

“I hope that no one stole anything or stole a small amount, but we’ll deal with it all,” Putin said.

On the evening of June 23, Prigozhin claimed that the Russian Defense Ministry launched missile strikes on the Wagner PMC’s rear camps. According to Prigozhin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu “covertly deployed artillery personnel and helicopter pilots to exterminate us.” Prigozhin then promised to respond to the strike and “to deal with those who destroy Russian soldiers.”

On the night of June 24, Wagner PMC mercenaries marched – virtually without resistance – from their bases in eastern Ukraine to the Rostov region, where they captured one of Russia's largest cities, Rostov-on-Don, as well as the headquarters of the Russian army’s Southern Military District. The group later managed to blockade the Russian military in Voronezh – another major city.

After marching over 700 kilometers from Rostov to Lipetsk and other towns within reach of Moscow, Prigozhin announced that the mutiny was over, adding that his troops would turn around and head back to base.

Following the failed mutiny, Prigozhin said that “the purpose of the campaign was not to allow the destruction of the Wagner PMC, and to hold accountable all those who by their unprofessional actions committed a huge number of mistakes during the ‘special military operation.’”

“We did not want to spill Russian blood. We went to demonstrate our protest, not to overthrow the government in the country,” Prigozhin said.

The end of the coup was apparently negotiated through Alexander Lukashenko, with Prigozhin being guaranteed a safe departure to Belarus. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), having earlier initiated a criminal case against Prigozhin for the “organization of an armed rebellion” (Article 279 of Russia’s Criminal Code), announced that it would be dropping the charges.

During the mutiny, the Wagner Group shot down several helicopters and a Russian military plane. Thirteen pilots were killed.

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