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ISW: Remnants of Wagner Group fighting near Avdiivka under Russian MoD

The remnants of what was Russia’s Wagner Group private military company “appear to be fighting” at Avdiivka, ISW says.
PMC Wagner Group in Mykolaivka, Donetsk Oblast, 2 February 2023. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
ISW: Remnants of Wagner Group fighting near Avdiivka under Russian MoD

Remnants of Russia’s Wagner Group private military company appear to be fighting in the Avdiivka direction subordinate to Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) controlled formations, the US-baed Institute for the Study of War reports.

 The commander of the Russian “Arbat” Separate Guards Special Purpose Battalion serving the Avdiivka direction claimed in an interview published by a Russian military correspondent on 25 October that an element of the Arbat Battalion is almost entirely composed of former Wagner personnel.

The commander claimed that the Avdiivka direction is the Arbat Battalion’s “main direction” because the unit is part of the “Dikaya Division of Donbas” and the “Pyatnashka” Brigade — a Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) formation that is responsible for the defending Donetsk City.

The commander noted that the Wagner-staffed unit sends drone operators, electronic warfare (EW) specialists, and other fighters to other units in different frontline sectors as needed. The correspondent also indicated that the Arbat Battalion is part of the Russian Armed Forces, and it is likely that the brigade consists of former Wagner personnel who signed military contracts directly with the Russian MoD following Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion and or his death.

Russia’s Wagner Group, known for its brutality and implicated in global conflicts and war crimes, became prominent in Ukraine starting in 2014 before Wagner owner Prigozhin’s failed 2023 coup in Russia and subsequent death in a plane crash left its future in doubt. 

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