According to Great Britain, Russian mercenaries from the so-called Wagner Group are fighting in Ukraine in close coordination with regular Russian units. The Ministry of Defense in London said on Friday, citing intelligence information, that the fighters were probably given responsibility for their own front sections, as they would otherwise be taken on by normal army units.
“This represents a significant change from previous operations by the group since 2015, where it typically conducted missions distinct from overt, large-scale regular Russian military activities,” it said. This integration undermines years of Russian government claims that there are no links between the state and private mercenary groups.
There had already been officially unconfirmed reports that the Wagner Group was involved with the Russian government around Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin. She is said to have fought in Syria, the Central African Republic and earlier in Ukraine.
The role has probably changed because the Russian armed forces were trying to compensate for a glaring lack of infantry units, according to the Ministry of Defense in London. However, it was “highly unlikely” that Wagner’s forces would be sufficient to change the course of the war significantly, it said in London.
According to British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, Russia is currently failing in many areas of its war against Ukraine. Therefore, Russian President Vladimir Putin could try to change his strategy again.
“The Russians are failing on the ground in many areas at the moment,” Wallace told Sky News. “Putin’s Plans A, B and C have failed and he may be looking at Plan D.” Neither the Russian government nor the Wagner mercenary organization could immediately be reached for comment.
On Wednesday, Ukraine said it was seeing a massive transfer of Russian troops to the south. According to British intelligence, Russia’s 49th Army is there on the west bank of the Dnieper. Because the Ukrainian armed forces had damaged several strategically important bridges, supplying the troops was made more difficult and the 49th Army was vulnerable.
The southern city of Cherson, controlled by Russian troops, is said to be practically cut off from the other Russian-held areas. The Kherson region of the same name lies opposite the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, and is the key to supplying it by land. The Kherson region had fallen to Russian forces shortly after the invasion began on February 24.
The focus of the Ukrainian counter-offensive is currently in the city of Cherson and a neighboring town.
Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine at the end of February, the British secret service has published information on the course of the war in unprecedented form every day. In doing so, the British government wants to both counter the Russian portrayal and show transparency in contrast to Moscow, keep allies in line and, if possible, reach people in Russia who otherwise only reach the Kremlin’s interpretation of the war.