The Russian president brought in private mercenaries to fight against the Ukrainians after he had trouble finding canon fodder. Now, the Ukrainians have taken out an important base for private paramilitary organization, the Wagner Group.
Thus far there have been no numbers on the casualties in the weekend strike using a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS provided by the U.S. Defense reporter with The Kyiv Independent Illia Ponomarenko tweeted:
‘I know it’s hip to compare Wagner Group with SS Totenkopf due to the costs-does-not-matter principle. But with time, Russia’s unofficial stormtroopers’ army becomes similar to the Dirlewanger Brigade. Violent criminals recruited, atrocities — an increasingly bloodthirsty swarm.’
The Wagner encampment was in the Luhansk region of Russian-controlled Ukraine. Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko wrote on Facebook that the “Wagner HQ in Popasna” was gone, according to The Daily Beast:
‘There is no more Wagner HQ in Popasna. Thank you, HIMARS and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.’
‘A few days ago, the Grey Zone (RSOTM) Telegram channel posted photos of a visit to the so-called Wagner HQ in the Donbas (Popasna). Prigozhin may have been there. The photos were apparently easy to geolocate. Ukraine destroyed it in a HIMARS strike today. t.me/grey_zone/14670′
Moscow would not even confirm whether the Wagner Group was real. Most of the elite force came from Russian prisons and included murderers pardoned in return for six months in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The former prisoners immediately went to the battlefront.
Russian propagandist war correspondent Sergei Sreda went to the Wagner Group headquarters in early August. There, he took photos of himself posing with Putin’s Chef, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch in charge of the “elite paramilitary.” Word has been that Prigozhin financed the private military.
It appears that the oligarch may have been killed in the strike, because no word of him has emerged as of yet. However, that just might be wishful thinking.
The pictures were part of Sreda’s propaganda program. Ironically, he showed geo-markers with them. Unfortunately for the Russians, the Ukrainian internet heroes quickly geolocated the markers for a direct attack before Moscow could have removed them.
The attack was confirmed by a couple of Russian Telegram channels, but the information was sketchy at best. Putin has used Wagner fighters since 2014 in Crimean and also in the Donbas area war zones.
Wagner Group specialist who teaches geopolitics at the University of Paris 8, Kevin Limonier, noted that Wagner is a brand, according to NPR:
‘It does not exist as an official structure.’
The Russian president has also sent the Wagner Group to the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan, and Syria.
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