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Russia used private mercenaries to reinforce frontline, British intelligence says

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Illustration of soldier holding rifle next to skull logo labeled: PMC Wagner Group followed by words in Russian.

Picture illustration: Yahoo Information; images: Getty Photos, Wikicommons.

LONDON — Russia has used personal mercenaries from the Kremlin’s shadowy personal navy to bolster its depleted frontline, British intelligence mentioned Monday.

In its every day intelligence replace, Britain’s Ministry of Protection mentioned that members of the Wagner Group had “nearly actually” participated in preventing — particularly within the cities Popasna and Lysychansk, which had been captured by Russian forces this month.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Protection estimates that as of Monday, Russia has misplaced 38,450 military personnel within the 144 days of the struggle, with Russia claiming to have misplaced simply 1,351.

British Protection Intelligence mentioned Wagner had been reinforcing its forces on the frontline in a bid to mitigate “shortfalls and casualties.” The intelligence report additionally mentioned that the group had been “reducing recruitment requirements” and “hiring convicts and previously blacklisted people” to assist improve numbers.

On this handout photograph taken from video launched by Russian Protection Ministry Press Service on July 4, a person units a Russian nationwide flag on a balcony of a residential constructing in Lysychansk, which is now territory underneath the Authorities of the Luhansk Individuals’s Republic management, japanese Ukraine. (Russian Protection Ministry Press Service by way of AP)

Previously, Wagner mercenaries have been accused of committing struggle crimes in nations they’ve been discovered working in resembling Syria, Sudan and the Central African Republic. “This can extremely probably influence on the long run operational effectiveness of the group and can scale back its worth as a prop to the common Russian forces,” the assertion learn.

For the Wagner Group’s alleged work within the area of Luhansk — a breakaway area in japanese Ukraine and the now self-proclaimed Luhansk Individuals’s Republic — the reported head of the group was made a “Hero of the Russian Federation.”

The group is believed to be owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch and shut buddy to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also called “Putin’s chef.” Prigozhin is needed by the FBI for his alleged involvement within the infamous troll farm that focused and interfered within the 2016 U.S. election. Prigozhin has been positioned on each U.S. and EU sanctions lists for operating disinformation campaigns to assist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He has beforehand denied any connection to Wagner.

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, serves meals to Vladimir Putin throughout dinner at Prigozhin’s restaurant exterior Moscow, Russia, in 2011. (Misha Japaridze/Pool by way of AP)

Again in March, Ukraine’s Protection Ministry claimed that Wagner mercenaries took up arms — simply three weeks into Russia’s brutal invasion. In a Fb publish this week, the Protection Ministry shared a picture of a canine tag that allegedly belonged to a Wagner mercenary soldier. “Wagnerists are already dying on the territory of Ukraine,” the publish learn.

This declare was backed by Britain’s Ministry of Protection on the time. “The Russian state nearly actually maintains intensive hyperlinks with Russian [private military companies], regardless of repeated denials,” a press release from the ministry mentioned.

A report from the British newspaper the Occasions on Feb. 28 claimed that greater than 400 mercenaries from the group had been deployed to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine claims that as of March 9, Zelensky had survived not less than 12 assassination makes an attempt — two of which had been allegedly orchestrated by the Wagner Group.

Canine tags mentioned to belong to members of the Wagner Group as posted on the Ukrainian Protection Ministry’s Fb web page.

The mercenaries, who’re recognized for his or her heinous acts, have reportedly fought in lots of conflicts throughout continents, together with the struggle in Syria. In March 2021, a lawsuit was filed towards the Wagner Group by a Syrian man who claimed the group had dedicated struggle crimes.

The grievance relies on a video posted on-line in 2017 that reportedly exhibits an unarmed man being interrogated by Russian-speaking males in navy uniforms. In 2019, one other video reportedly confirmed the identical man being crushed, tortured and beheaded, and his physique being burned.

Final yr, U.N. specialists mentioned Wagner had dedicated human rights abuses within the Central African Republic whereas preventing alongside authorities forces. The alleged violations included mass executions and torture throughout interrogation. A report from February 2021 acknowledged that over 276,000 civilians had additionally been forcibly displaced since December 2020.



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