A Russian oligarch, infamously known as ‘Putin’s Cook’, was in communication with Kremlin officials before, during, and after the recent attack in Syria on U.S. military positions and American-supported Syrian opposition forces. The Washington Post reports Yevgeniy Prigozhin was overheard saying he had ‘secured permission’ to authorize the attack, according to intercepted communications.
“In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had “secured permission” from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative that would take place in early February,” reported The Washington Post.
“Among his various enterprises, U.S. intelligence believes that Prigozhin also “almost certainly” controls Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad. The mercenaries, employed by a company called Wagner, comprise ultranationalist Russians and military veterans, some of whom also fought in the Ukraine conflict, according to Russian news reports,” the Post added.
Reports are that several hundred mercenaries attacked an oil refinery during the night near Deir al-Zour, Syria. The installation was held by coalition forces. American airpower was deployed against the hostile force using Apache gunships, AC-130 gunships, and fast-mover attack aircraft.
The number of Russian dead an injured is in dispute but reports are approximately 100 were killed and dozens more injured.
The U.S. military expressed confusion as to why the attack happened. Russian nationals suggested the attack was based on a financial agenda of controlling oil fields in the region for profits.