Wagner chief takes credit for trolling accused of swaying US election

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The head of the notorious Wagner Group which sends mercenaries to fight in Ukraine has claimed to have founded a troll farm to sway the 2016 US election. Vladimir Putin’s go-to henchman has openly taken credit for creating the Internet Research Agency, which is accused by the West of attempting to sway the presidential election through disinformation campaigns on social media and online news sites. The Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, was sanctioned by the US in 2018 for its alleged role in influencing the election that was won by Donald Trump.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in foreign election interference, but it is widely believed that the Internet Research Agency has indeed interfered on behalf of the Russian government.

Wagner CEO said on Tuesday that he had in fact founded the notorious “troll farm”.

Prigozhin told German outlet Der Spiegel: “I thought it up, I created it, and I managed it for a long time,

“It was created to protect the Russian information space from boorish aggressive propaganda of the West’s anti-Russian talking points.

Prigozhin initially denied having any association with Wagner, a group whose mercenaries have taken part in conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. However, in September, he admitted that he established the organisation.

Wagner is a Russian mercenary force that is now fighting in Ukraine.

The 61-year-old became wealthy by catering events for the Kremlin and is rumoured to be close to Putin.

He has taken on a more public persona since Russia invaded Ukraine, regularly bragging about Wagner’s victory and publically calling out his political foes.

Russian Wagner soldiers appear to attack their commander

Meanwhile, Russian forces are still trying to punch through Ukraine’s defences in eastern areas of the country, the Ukrainian General Staff said Wednesday, as Russian artillery, drones and missiles have been relentlessly pounding Ukrainian-held eastern areas for months, indiscriminately hitting civilian targets and wreaking destruction, as the war largely slowed to a grinding stalemate in the winter. Moscow is hungry for some battlefield success after months of setbacks.

With the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war approaching, followed by improved spring weather, Western officials and analysts say the fighting could be nearing a critical phase when both sides look to launch offensives.

The Kremlin is striving to secure eastern areas it illegally annexed last September — the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions — and where it claims its rule is welcomed. Pro-Moscow separatists have controlled part of Donetsk and neighbouring Luhansk province since 2014.

“The enemy, trying to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, continues to focus his main efforts on conducting offensive operations in the Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk areas,” the Ukrainian military reported, referencing towns in the two provinces as well as on the eastern edge of the neighbouring Kharkiv region.

Amid the fighting, Ukrainian Red Cross volunteers are evacuating immobile patients from Donetsk hospitals to medical trains operated by Doctors without Borders.

The trains take patients to safer regions of Ukraine.

The battles are draining weapons stockpiles on both sides. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned earlier this week that Ukraine is using up ammunition far faster than its allies can provide it.

The UK Ministry of Defense said Wednesday that Russia’s military-industrial output “is becoming a critical weakness.”

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