Kremlin dismisses Ukraine's claim Wagner sought nuclear weapons
PHOTO CAPTION: Russian law enforcement officers stand guard outside PMC Wagner Centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 24, 2023. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Wednesday dismissed as misinformation an assertion by Ukrainian military intelligence that members of Russia's Wagner mercenary group had intended to acquire nuclear devices during a failed mutiny last month.
Ukraine's head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said, without providing evidence, that Wagner fighters had reached a nuclear facility on June 24 and had intended to acquire small Soviet-era nuclear devices in order to "raise the stakes" in their mutiny, Reuters reported.
"The Kremlin has no such information," spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, when asked about Budanov's assertion that Wagner mercenaries had made it to the Voronezh-45 nuclear base to try to get nuclear devices.
"It looks like more misinformation," Peskov said.
Reuters reported that a source close to the Kremlin with military ties had corroborated parts of Budanov's account.
A Wagner contingent "managed to get into a zone of special interest, as a result of which the Americans got agitated because nuclear munitions are stored there," this person said, without elaborating further.
In response to a query about whether Wagner forces reached the base and sought to acquire nuclear weapons, White House National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge said: "We are not able to corroborate this report. We had no indication at any point that nuclear weapons or materials were at risk."
(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)