The leader of the Russian mercenary group "Wagner" Yevgeny Prigozhin said yesterday that a "former general" from the US Marines had joined this private army, whose fighters are fighting in Ukraine in particular, AFP reported, quoted by BTA.

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In response to a question from the Finnish "Helsingin Sanomat", the Russian businessman said: There are not many Finnish citizens in "Wagner" - about 20 people.

For obvious reasons I cannot give you exact information about them.

"I have a very good opinion of the Finns on the battlefield. They are fighting as part of a British battalion (which is part of "Wagner") commanded by an American citizen, a former general of the Marine Corps," added Prigogine.

Nicknamed "Putin's cook" because of his catering company's contracts with the Kremlin, Prigozhin is considered a billionaire who got rich thanks to contracts with the state.

Sanctions have been imposed on him by the EU and the US.

In September, he revealed for the first time that he had created the Wagner Group in 2014 to fight in Ukraine, and admitted that his mercenaries were present in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

For years, Wagner has been suspected of playing a role in furthering the Kremlin's ambitions, particularly in Ukraine, where the mercenaries were at the forefront of the offensive launched by Moscow in February.

A former Russian policeman convicted of murder died in Ukraine

Russian invasion of Ukraine