Leaked US army doc reveals Russia’s Wagner mercenary group tried to purchase weapons from NATO members

(CNN) A Russian paramilitary group preventing on behalf of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine has tried to purchase weapons and gear from an unlikely supply: NATO member Turkey, based on a leaked US intelligence doc obtained by CNN was obtained.

The leaked doc seems to point out how far Russia’s personal army group Wagner has gone to attempt to additional bolster its capabilities because the battle in Ukraine – during which it performs a key function – rages on with no signal of abating.

As a NATO member, Turkey is broadly seen as a companion nation to the US and different international locations offering direct army assist to Ukraine, and has publicly opposed the invasion of Russia.

Additionally it is house to a significant US army base, which shops nuclear weapons and serves as an apparent warning signal to discourage Russian aggression in opposition to NATO members.

In keeping with the US alerts intelligence report cited within the doc, Wagner Group operatives met with “Turkish contacts” in early February with the intention of “buying weapons and gear from Turkey” which might then be utilized by Wagner mercenaries working on the Aspect preventing Russian troops in Ukraine.

It’s unclear who these “contacts” have been or if the Turkish authorities knew in regards to the conferences. There isn’t any proof Turkey has moved ahead with arms gross sales to the Wagner Group.

Nonetheless, the potential for a NATO ally to promote arms to Russian mercenaries would doubtless elevate severe issues in Washington and complicate Ankara’s relationship with different NATO members.

The small print of the February assembly, outlined in a bit of the leaked doc titled “Mali, Russia, Turkey: Vagner seeks weapons from Ankara,” counsel US officers consider the Russian mercenary pressure no less than discovered the water has examined.

In keeping with the leaked doc, Wagner additionally deliberate to make use of the weapons and gear from Turkey in Mali, the place the group maintains a big presence.

The doc not solely refers to intelligence details about Wagner’s intention to purchase arms from Turkey, it additionally says that the paramilitary group deliberate to renew recruiting prisoners from Russian prisons.

CNN has not independently confirmed the doc’s accuracy, however US officers have indicated that a lot of the leaked tranche is genuine. A State Division spokesman mentioned “the Division of Protection and intelligence companies are actively reviewing and evaluating the validity” of the leaked paperwork, including, “We’re unable to verify or touch upon any particular info contained therein.”

CNN has reached out to the US Nationwide Safety Council, the Workplace of the President of Turkey and the Turkish Embassy in Washington for touch upon the doc.

Turkey’s distinctive relationship with Russia

US officers have lengthy grappled with the sophisticated actuality of Turkey’s distinctive relationship with Moscow in comparison with different NATO members, regardless of all being a part of the identical alliance geared toward defending neighboring nations from the potential menace of Russian enlargement .

The Turkish authorities has spoken out in opposition to a Russian invasion of Ukraine. In contrast to many NATO allies, nevertheless, it maintains shut ties with the federal government in Moscow.

At occasions, the Turkish authorities has used these connections to induce the Russian authorities to finish the battle, together with final week when Turkish International Minister Mevlut Cavasoglu met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Ankara.

The Turkish authorities acted as one of many brokers of a deal to let Ukrainian grain safely go via the Black Sea and not using a Russian menace.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has beforehand positioned himself as a mediator within the Russia-Ukraine battle. In January, Erdogan held separate talks with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He instructed Zelenskyy that Turkey is able to play a mediating and mediating function for an enduring peace between the international locations and that it may possibly facilitate diplomatic efforts concerning the Zaporizhia nuclear energy plant, based on a Turkish authorities choose.

In his cellphone name with Putin, Erdogan instructed him requires peace and negotiations needs to be backed by a unilateral ceasefire declaration and a imaginative and prescient of a “honest answer.”

Nonetheless, Putin instructed Erdogan that Moscow is open to “severe dialogue” however that Kiev should settle for the “new territorial realities,” based on a Kremlin assertion.

In keeping with the leaked Pentagon doc, representatives of the Wagner group seem to have met with their Turkish contacts only a month after Erdogan known as Putin and Zelenskyy.

CIA Director Invoice Burns mentioned Tuesday his intelligence company understood that Putin was “not severe” in regards to the negotiations over the battle in Ukraine “at this stage” and that it was “Ukraine’s progress on the battlefield that almost certainly made the distinction.” Shaping prospects for an finish to diplomacy”. the continuing battle.

Talking publicly for the primary time since leaked categorised US army paperwork appeared on-line – together with assessments taking a pessimistic view on the state of battle and predicting a stalemate for the foreseeable future – Burns harassed the significance of Ukraine’s deliberate offensive, saying: “a In There’s rather a lot at stake within the coming months.”

One other doc obtained by CNN cites alerts info that Turkish firms helped circumvent sanctions on one other key Putin ally: Belarus.

The US has tried to crack down on such efforts to avoid sanctions, even by firms based mostly in US-allied international locations. On Wednesday, the US Treasury Division imposed sanctions on two Turkish firms it mentioned assist Russia’s military-industrial complicated regardless of present sanctions.