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Ukraine’s military сonfirms Wagner mercenaries return to front

“However, they will not pose a significant threat like before since their main leader Prigozhin is not there,” Ukraine’s Eastern Group of Forces spox said.
Wagner PMC
Wagner PMC, photo by RIA Novosi
Ukraine’s military сonfirms Wagner mercenaries return to front

Wagner private military company (PMC) fighters are returned to the front in Donetsk Oblast, according to Illia Yevlash, spokesman of Ukraine’s Eastern Group of Forces, in comments to RBC-Ukraine.

We confirm that Wagner mercenaries are present on the territory of the East military group. These are members of the Wagner PMC, who were on the territory of Belarus. Their camps are currently being disbanded there. There were about 8,000 of them there. Now, some of these fighters have gone to Africa, while others are renegotiating contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense and returning here to the East of Ukraine to participate in combat operations, both as instructors and military personnel,” Yevlash said.

According to Yevlash, this concerns remnants of the formation, around 500 people, that the Russian command plans to involve in the armed conflict on Russia’s side.

“However, they will not pose a significant threat, as they did before, because there is no longer a main leader, Prigozhin. These people are indeed among the most trained in the Russian army, but they will not become a significant threat or ‘game changer,’” Yevlash summarized.

Earlier, CNN citing a Ukrainian serviceman, reported that Wagner mercenaries had allegedly returned near Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast.

Yes, Wagner is here too. They have returned,” an air reconnaissance operator with call sign “Hruv” from the 92nd Brigade told journalists.

According to the serviceman, they “quickly changed commanders” and returned to battle.

The serviceman said he considers the appearance of Wagner fighters in this area “compensation for the lack of personnel of the Russian army.”

CNN noted this is the first confirmation from the Ukrainian military that Wagner units have returned to Donetsk Oblast.

Notably, fighters from the Wagner PMC actively participated in fierce battles for Bakhmut from the Russian side. In late May this year, their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin stated that the city had allegedly “come under complete control of Russia” and announced the “withdrawal of his units from the city.”

Later, Prigozhin decided to make a “march on Moscow” with his mercenaries, but his mutiny in Russia lasted no more than a day.

In response to the mutiny, Putin allowed Prigozhin to leave to Belarus. The Wagner group members who wanted to follow were allowed to leave, as well, while the others were required to become part of the Russian Army. Belarusian self-declared President Alyaksandr Lukashenka stated that the Wagner Group would train the Belarusian army.

On 15 July, border guards confirmed the arrival of Wagner Group fighters in Belarus. The Belarusian MoD said that the PMC has begun training Belarusian troops. However, Ukraine has stated that Wagner is recruiting locals for military operations in Poland and Lithuania.

Polish PM Morawiecki has warned that the movement of 100 Wagner units towards the Suwalki gap, a major NATO vulnerability, is a step towards a hybrid attack on Poland.

And on 23 August, Prigozhin’s plane crashed in Russia. After that, Moscow officially announced that the group’s leader and everyone on the plane did not survive.

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