The White House released recently declassified intelligence on Tuesday confirming that the Russian mercenary organization Wagner group has been preparing to provide an air defense capability “to either Hezbollah or Iran,” according to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby. Wagner was preparing to provide the capability at the direction of the Russian government, Kirby said. The newly downgraded intelligence did not specify where the missile system would be coming from. But CNN previously reported that the Wagner Group had been tasked with carrying out the delivery of a surface-to-air SA-22 missile system from Syria to the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to provide Hezbollah with the Russian-made missile defense system, known as a Pantsir, two people familiar with the intelligence told CNN last month. “We will closely monitor for whether Wagner provides military equipment to Hezbollah or Iran,” Kirby said. “We are prepared to use our counterterrorism sanctions authorities against Russian individuals or entities making these destabilizing transfers.” Russia’s role in directing the transfer of an air defense system to Hezbollah reflects Moscow’s ongoing arms relationship with Iran and its proxies, which has only strengthened since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The US is also concerned that Iran is preparing to provide Russia with ballistic missiles, which Iran showcased to Russian Defense Minister Shoigu during the latter’s visit to Tehran in September, Kirby said on Tuesday.

via cnn: White House declassifies intel suggesting Wagner Group is preparing to provide air defense capability to Hezbollah or Iran