Declan Walsh, Irish journalist and Chief Africa Correspondent for the New York Times, identified Russian oligarch know as “Putin’s Chef” as linchpin of Wagner operations in Sudan.
Walsh, writing for the NY Times, said that Western officials have pinpointed, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch also known as “Putin’s chef”, has been running and financing Wagner’s operations.
Wagner, once thought to be merely a group of Russian mercenaries for hire, has now expanded into a network consisting of mining companies and political influence operations.
The US State Department had also identified Prigozhin as the owner of infamous mining company Meroe Gold.
Among such operations, as per Walsh’s report, is obtaining “lucrative Sudanese mining concessions that produce a stream of gold” that would potentially help boost Russia’s $130 billion gold stash that US officials worry is being used to soften the blow of economic sanctions imposed due to the Ukraine war.
Prigozhin, in a written response, denied any involvement in mining activities in Sudan, any ownership of Meroe Gold, and any relation to the Wagner group, which he described as merely a “legend”.
The report states that a week after Omar al-Bashir’s downfall, Prigozhin’s jet arrived in Khartoum carrying a Russian military delegation, and returned to Moscow with senior Sudanese defense officials who included Rapid Support Forces second in command Abdel Rahim Dagalo, brother of notorious warlord and RSF leader “Hemedti”.
Walsh’s report also noted that On June 5, 2019, two days after the bloody Khartoum massacre perpetrated by the RSF forces, Prigozhin’s company, Meroe Gold, “imported 13 tons of riot shields, as well as helmets and batons for a company controlled by General Hamdan’s family.”