Who Is Nikolai Peskov? Son of Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov Joined Wagner in Ukraine and Was Awarded the Medal of Courage

When asked how his father reacted to his decision to join the Wagner group, Nikolai Peskov said: "He's proud of me, I think. My father told me that I made the right decision."

Nikolai Peskov, the son of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, has claimed that he chose to join Russia's Wagner mercenary group and fight in Ukraine. Peskov made the claim during an interview with the media. He also said that he was awarded the Medal for Courage after serving for about six months.

"I considered it my duty... I couldn't sit on the sidelines and watch friends and other people go there," Peskov said in an interview with Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. "When I went there, I had to change my last name. Nobody really knew who I was." However, his claims haven't been verified independently.

Open Confession

Nikolai Peskov
Nikolai Peskov Twitter

It is rare for a Russian elite person to voluntarily join the group. Several people have fled Russia to avoid being drafted into the regular army, following Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Peskov claimed that in order to conceal his true identity, he completed his contract under an assumed name for just under half a year.

Nikolai Peskov
Nikolai Peskov claimed to have served the Wagner in Ukraine Twitter

When asked how his father reacted to his decision to join the Wagner group, Nikolai Peskov said: "He's proud of me, I think. My father told me that I made the right decision."

Nikolai Peskov's interview comes just a day after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner, also reportedly said on Friday that the son of the Kremlin spokesperson had participated in the mercenary group. Russian elite and high-ranking government officials' children have time and again drawn criticism for declining to serve in Ukraine.

Given that he lived in London for a number of years as a young man, Nikolai Peskov, also known by the name Nikolai Choles, is fluent in English. He has also served as a correspondent for the Russian state broadcaster RT.

He and his father are both under US sanctions.

Starting a Different Kind of War

During the interview, Nikolai Peskov said that it was his own decision to join Wagner, but he did not know how to do it, "so I had to turn to my dad... and he helped me with that".

Dmitry Peskov
Dmitry Peskov Twitter

He also claimed that he created a fake ID so that his Wagner comrades would not become aware of his ties to the Kremlin. He didn't reveal his assumed name to the interviewer because he felt that he may need to use it again in the future.

The claims made by Nikolai Peskov coincide with a significant new army recruitment drive, with Russian state advertisements urging men to carry out their "patriotic duty" during the crisis in Ukraine.

Tens of thousands of men left Russia in an effort to avoid being drafted after President Vladimir Putin declared a "partial mobilization" in September of last year.

Nikolai Peskov
Nikolai Peskov with his father Dmitry Peskov Twitter

Nikolai Peskov didn't disclose the precise location of service in what Russia refers to as its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, did, however, provide more information in comments to the Russian media. He claimed that after joining the gang using false identification, Peskov's son went through a three-week training program.

"After that, when he left for Luhansk, it was necessary to expand the combined artillery battalion, and he was sent to join an Uragan [multiple rocket launcher] crew," Mr Prigozhin said, adding that he "showed courage and heroism, just like all the others".

Prigozhin claimed it was actually Dmitry Peskov who ordered to him to "take [Nikolai] on as a simple artilleryman".

He was the subject of a live YouTube hoax in September where he seemed to be reluctant to join the army.

In a phone conversation with Nikolai Peskov, journalist Dmitry Nizovtsev, a friend of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, pretended to be a military recruitment officer. Nizovtsev asked him in an aggressive manner why he hadn't appeared at a Moscow call-up center.

Nikolai Peskov
Nikolai Peskov Twitter

Nikolai replied nervously, reminding Nizovtsev that "I am Mr Peskov".

"I'm going to take this matter to another level," he said. "I basically need to know what's going on and what my rights are."

Russian generals in Ukraine have been under harsh criticism from Prigozhin and certain military bloggers, who accuse them of blunders and under-equipping Wagner. Prigozhin also claimed that military leaders had failed to acknowledge the sacrifices made by his group.