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UK intelligence: Russia deploys Africa Corps units in Kharkiv offensive

UK intelligence suggests that Russia is reinforcing its war efforts in Ukraine by reallocating resources previously assigned to Africa, as evidenced by the redeployment of Africa Corps detachments to the Ukrainian border.
How Wagner Group exports Putin-style rule to Africa
Wagner mercenary in Africa. Photo:
UK intelligence: Russia deploys Africa Corps units in Kharkiv offensive

According to a recent report from UK intelligence, over the past week, Russia deployed units from the Russian Ministry of Defence’s Africa Corps alongside its regular forces and Storm-Z units in an offensive on Vovchansk, northern Kharkiv Oblast.

Russia was found recruiting mercenaries from at least 21 countries to fight against Ukraine, including India, Cuba, Syria, and Serbia.

The Africa Corps, established in December 2023, comprises more than 2,000 regular soldiers, officers, and experienced mercenaries, many of whom have previously served in the Wagner Group, UK intelligence reports.

 The intelligence suggests that Africa Corps detachments were likely deployed to Syria, Libya, Burkina Faso, and Niger in the past.

UK intelligence further states that it is highly likely that the Russian Ministry of Defence redeployed detachments from the Africa Corps to the Ukrainian border during April 2024 in preparation for the Kharkiv offensive. Russia is reinforcing its war efforts in Ukraine with resources that were previously assigned to Africa, as per UK intelligence.

Russia is also known for recruiting prisoners to fight the war in Ukraine. The Storm-Z units of the Russian army are composed mainly of convicts from Russian prisons and regular soldiers being punished for disciplinary breaches. They are sent to the most dangerous parts of the front and often suffer high casualties. That is why many describe them as “just meat.”

On 10 May, Russian forces started an offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, with the city of Vovchansk being their primary target. The Ukrainian troops are still fighting for Vovchansk.

On 17 May, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that Ukrainian forces had stabilized the Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast. Despite some advancements, Russian troops have only penetrated up to 10 kilometers without breaching Ukraine’s main defense lines.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin stated the objective is to create a buffer zone in Kharkiv Oblast rather than capturing Kharkiv.

 Russian forces also shot two Ukrainian civilians attempting to flee Vovchansk. The incident occurred near a local hospital where a 70-year-old man, his wife, and another resident were targeted. The man managed to escape, but his wife and the other resident were killed.


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