Former President George W. Bush said he was shocked to see photographs of himself being served dinner by Wagner mercenary group boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin during a G-8 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2006, The Washington Post reported.
Photographs emerged that show Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, attending a dinner with Putin and his then-wife, Lyudmila, in 2006. Prigozhin is seen leaning close to Bush’s shoulder while holding out a bottle.
Bush said he didn’t remember the encounter at the G-8 summit until recently, but he added, “All I know is I survived.”
It was the first time the G-8 had met in Russia, which joined the Group of Seven bloc of industrialized nations in 1997, making it the G-8. Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 after its illegal annexation of Crimea.
Before Prigozhin became Putin’s chef, he ran successful restaurants in St. Petersburg that were frequented by Putin in the 1990s.
As Putin rose to power, he sent lucrative food service contracts with schools and the military toward Prigozhin’s catering company, Concord, The Washington Post reported. Prigozhin soon became a Putin ally, leading mercenary forces to advance Russia’s military interests in Syria, West Africa and Ukraine.
Prigozhin criticized what he called the inadequate military and financial support for his troops in Ukraine and led a short-lived rebellion against Russian military leadership.
Bush said he was not shocked to learn of Prigozhin’s recent death in a plane crash.
Asked about the war in Ukraine, Bush said Washington should not demand that Ukrainians give up land to an “invader” to achieve peace.
“The United States should not try to impose a peace on a democratically elected government,” Bush said. “But we’re in. And now that we’re in, we’ve got to give them what they need to win,” he said of weapons support, which has been a divisive issue among some Republicans.
Peter Malbin ✉
Peter Malbin, a Newsmax writer, covers news and politics. He has 30 years of news experience, including for the New York Times, New York Post and Newsweek.com.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.