Shadowy Russian death squad the Wagner Group fighting bloody battle in Ukraine
As Vladimir Putin escalates his attacks on Ukraine, mercenaries from the infamous Wagner Group have been seen operating as “death squads” in intense street fighting in Ukraine.
The Wagner Group has been used in conflicts from Syria to central Africa as a deniable resource for the Russian military, and is associated with dozens of atrocities and alleged war crimes.
A 20-year-old woman from the Central African Republic told how several Wagner Group mercenaries had abducted and raped her in February 2021. “They tortured me like an animal,” she said.
In another incident, men believed to have been from the Wagner Group fired indiscriminately into a crowd of civilians taking shelter in a mosque: “They weren’t trying to figure out who was a rebel and who was a civilian,” said one eyewitness. “They wanted to kill people.”
While some of the highly-paid Wagner Group operatives are ex-military, many others are former convicts with little or no military training or experience.
Video footage of the group, captured by a drone and originally posted by Boris Rozhin, a pro-Russian blogger who uses the name “Colonel Cassad” on Telegram, is the first concrete evidence that the group is operating inside Ukraine.
The video shows a squad of Russian invaders involved in house-to-house combat with Ukrainian troops – throwing grenades before storming a building.
Inside The Wagner Group – Putin's secret army waging bloody war on NATO's borders
The presence of the mercenaries inside Ukraine is evidence that Putin is using every resource available in a bid to subdue Ukrainian resistance. The Russian leader desperate for anything that he can present to the Russian people as a “victory” on May 9 – the date when Russia celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler’s Germany.
Kremlin watchers predict that the Russian leader will take the opportunity to announce that Russia is formally at war with Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, in which tens of thousands of military personnel and civilians have already died, is officially classed as a “special military operation” inside Russia.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, told LBC Radio that May 9 would be likely to mark a significant escalation in the Russian war effort given that Putin’s forces had failed in most of their major objectives.
He said: “I think what he’s going to do is he’s going to move from his special operation, and he’s been laying the ground for being able to say, ‘Look, this is now a war against Nazis and what I need is more people, I need more Russian cannon fodder basically’.
“I would not be surprised … he is probably going to declare on May Day that, ‘We are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people.’”
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