Newly obtained video shows rare footage of a Russian mercenary group actively engaging Ukrainian forces in Popasna.
Video description: UAV footage captures A Wagner Group mercenary throws hand grenades into a building with Ukrainian soldiers in it. Towards the end of the video, the soldiers give up and can be seen laying on the ground with Wagner Group mercenaries around them. Unknown how many died.
Video description: Wagner Group Mercenaries moving in and assaulting a trench and buildings in Popasna
Video description: UAV Video showing a Ukrainian soldier retreating from a trench with Wagner Group Mercenaries moving in.
The Wagner Group, a private military contractor (PMC), has been operating in Ukraine since the war broke out. According to intelligence released by the United Kingdom, the Wagner group has over 1,000 mercenaries in eastern Ukraine and 5,000 mercenaries operating worldwide. The Wagner Group operates in the shadows, and very little information is publicly available about the contractors. The organization is believed to have been founded by a former Russian army officer Dmitri Utkin. Rumor has it that Utkin founded the group and used his former call-sign “Wagner” to name the organization. Utkin is a veteran of the Chechen wars and a former special forces officer with Russia’s military intelligence service. In addition to Utkin, the group is believed to have ties to Russian oligarchs who operate as “stakeholders” and are believed to have originally funded their operations.
Previous involvement: The Wagner group is not a new force when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine. The group was previously deployed in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. In addition, the group has been contracted to various locations around the world, including many African countries, Libya, and Syria.
Funding: Many believe that the Russian government secretly funds the Wagner Group. Specifically, there have been accusations that Russia’s military intelligence agency, the Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravlenie (GRU), funds and oversees all their operations. However, Russia has denied that the Wagner Group has any connection to the Russian government.
Accusations of war crimes: The United States, United Nations, and the French government have accused the Wagner Group of multiple war crimes.
First: The United States previously accused the Wagner group of planting landmines around the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The director of intelligence at the US Army’s Africa Command said the “Wagner Group’s reckless use of landmines and booby traps is harming innocent civilians.”
Second: The United Nations and French Government have accused the Wagner Group of committing robberies, assaults, rapes, and murders against civilians in Africa.
Third: A video from 2019 surfaced showing Wagner Group mercenaries beating a Syrian man (Hamdi Bouta) with a sledgehammer before decapitating him, setting his body on fire, and posing for photos with his remains.
Additional piece: The Wagner Group operates an extensive amount of facilities around Russia. The majority of their locations are located next to Russian military bases.