A Russian businessman indicted last week for his alleged role in meddling in the 2016 election has ties to a military contractor connected to a recent attack on U.S. forces in Syria, ABC News reported Wednesday.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, was charged last week with using his businesses to fund a Russian “troll farm” that spread misinformation and fomented division leading up to the 2016 U.S. election.
U.S. officials told ABC News that Prigozhin also has ties to the Wagner Group, a firm based in Russia that sent mercenaries to Syria. Those mercenaries are believed to be involved in an attempted strike against U.S. forces and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces earlier this month.
His connection to the Wagner Group shows he may be helping to pursue Russian President Vladimir Putin’s global agenda, ABC News reported.
U.S. forces killed “scores” of Russians and pro-Syrian government forces in a Feb. 7 airstrike that officials said was carried out in response to an “unprovoked” attack on the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Defense Secretary James Mattis said last weekend it is still unclear who ordered the original attack against U.S. forces.
“I still cannot give you any information on why they would do this. But they took direction from someone. Was it local direction? Was it from external sources? Don’t ask me. I don’t know,” Mattis told reporters.