The Germans, the Germans and the Ukrainian Army – Is it a good idea to go back to the battlefield? An analysis by the Wagner Group
On the grass, the bodies of the Ukrainians lay side by side, the earth next to them splayed open by a crater. Dragged to the spot by Russian mercenaries, the victims’ arms pointed to where they had died.
“There is no need for a grenade, we will just bash them in,” another says of the Ukrainian soldiers who will come to collect the bodies. The mercenaries then realize they have run out of ammunition.
TheWagner Group forces have been accused of atrocities against civilians and suffered high casualty rates. According to the New York Times, 10% of the country’s prison population have joined the Russian forces.
As a result of limited official information about its existence and ties to the Russian state, the group is able to cloud analysis of its exact capabilities and activities.
We were going to fight Poles and other mercenaries. Germans. We didn’t think anyone was left in the Ukrainian army there. They thought that they had left the country.
“They have more weighty, more meaningful experience than the army. The army is made up of young soldiers who were forced to sign a contract.
“The Russian army cannot handle [the war] without mercenaries,” according to Gabidullin, adding that there’s “a very big myth, a very big obfuscation about a strong Russian army.”
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“Wagner has been suffering high losses in Ukraine, especially and unsurprisingly among young and inexperienced fighters,” according to a senior US defense source speaking in September.
Wagner fighters have even been offered bonuses – all paid in US dollars – for wiping out Ukrainian tanks or units, according to a senior Ukrainian defense source and based on the intelligence gathered on Wagner since the start of the war by Ukrainian authorities.
Yusov also said that Wagner is increasingly being used to patch holes in the Russian front line. An American senior defense official confirmed that different front lines are different for Chechen fighters than forWagner, and they are 888-609- 888-609- 888-609- 888-609- 888-609-.
The logistical challenges have arisen because of the need to give food and supplies to the soldiers, and also because of the attack by the Ukrainians on Russia’s logistical infrastructure.
Wagner’s invitations to contact recruiters have also spread via social media and online. A recruiter contacted by CNN had offered a monthly salary of at least 240,000 rubles and a business trip of at least four months. The medical conditions that prevented potential applicants from joining were listed in the recruiter’s message.
It would have been unthinkable just a few months ago for the private military company to move out of the confines of the Kremlin’s arsenal.
The plan to put convicts into the war grew fast, with figures obtained by CNN showing a decrease in the prison population in Russia between March and November last year.
Working on Ukrainian investigations into possible Russian war crimes Belousov fears that this carelessness will see the scale of war crimes increase.
On Thursday, Prigozhin announced that Wagner had stopped recruiting convicts to fight in Ukraine, saying “those who work for us now are fulfilling all their obligations.” CNN cannot independently confirm the claims about the decision and no reason was given.
Wagner’s struggles in Ukraine have set in motion a wider problem: discontent in its ranks. Those salaries and work are important for a group that depends on it.
The defense intelligence spokesman said the Ukrainian intelligence services in August noted a decline in the psychological state of the troops. He has also seen a trend in Russian troops.
He said that the reduction in recruitment requirements points to demoralization, and that the number of professional soldiers willing to volunteer to fight with Wagner is also decreasing.
They were dissatisfied with the overall organization of the fighting and this caused their demoralization, according to Gabidullin. [the Russian leadership’s] inability to make competent decisions, to organize battles.”
For one mercenary who contacted Gabidullin for advice, that incompetence was too much. He said that he wouldn’t be there anymore. CNN spoke with Gabidullin about why he wasn’t taking part in this.
An encounter between a fallen Wagner mercenary and a flaming gunman in the field of Prigozhins
In one clip, a fallen Wagner mercenary lies, in death, almost peacefully, his left hand gently gripping the black earth. The field was littered with dead bodies and flaming armored vehicles. There are shots coming through the smoke.
“I’m sorry, bro, I’m sorry,” the soldier’s comrade says, lightly patting his back, stripped of his shirt by the battle that killed him. “Let’s get out of here, if they shoot us, we’ll lie next to him.”
“They would round up those who did not want to fight and shoot them in front of newcomers,” he alleges. “They brought two prisoners who refused to go fight and they shot them in front of everyone and buried them right in the trenches that were dug by the trainees.”
Prigozhins said that he should have been prosecuted for attempting to mistreat prisoners after it was confirmed that he had served in his company.
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“There were no real tactics at all. There were no definite orders about how we should act. We just planned how we would go about it, step by step. Who would open fire, what kind of shifts we would have…How it how it how it would turn out that was our problem,” he said.
The man who defected from Russia to Norway spoke to CNN, where he said he dodged bullets from Russians and escaped arrest at least ten times. He crossed into Norway using a white camouflage dress.
He told CNN that by the sixth day of his deployment in Ukraine, he didn’t want to go back for another tour after witnessing troops being turned into cannon fodder.
He started off with 10 men under his command, a number that grew once prisoners were allowed to join, he said. “There were more dead bodies, and more, and more, people coming in. In the end I had a lot of people under my command,” he said. “I couldn’t count how many. They were being kept in constant circulation. Dead bodies, more prisoners, more dead bodies.
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But in reality “nobody wanted to pay that kind of money,” Medvedev said. He alleged that many Russians who died fighting in Ukraine were “just declared missing.”
“Sooner or later the propaganda in Russia will stop working, the people will rise up and all our leaders …will be up for grabs and a new leader will emerge.”
When asked if he fears the fate meted on another Wagner defector, Yevgeny Nuzhin, who was murdered on camera with a sledgehammer, Medvedev said Nuzhin’s death emboldened him to leave.
Ukrainian soldiers living southwest of Bakhmut are holed up in a candle-lit shelter cut into the earth. Hundreds of fighters from the Russian private military contractor were throwing themselves against Ukrainian defenses for several weeks.
Another group follows, he says, to claim another 30 meters. “That’s how, step by step, (Wagner) is trying to move forward, while they lose a lot of people in the meantime.”
When the first wave is exhausted, and/or cut down, they send in more experienced fighters to try to overrun Ukrainian positions.
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Our machine gunner was almost crazy because he was shooting at them. He said that he knows I shot him, but he doesn’t fall. Sometime later, when he bleeds out, he just falls down.
“It looks like it’s very, very likely that they are getting some drugs before attack,” he says, a claim that CNN has not been able independently to verify.
Even after the first waves were eliminated, the attack continued as the Ukrainian defenders say they ran out of bullets and found themselves surrounded.
The fields above the firefight echo almost constant bombardment while he speaks to CNN. The whine of outgoing weaponry is followed by a distant sonic bang that can be heard a few kilometers away.
The engineer had been told that he would be killed in battle. You are afraid to fight for your freedom in the country where you live.
Andriy contrasted Russian President Vladimir Putin with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who not so long ago was the country’s leading comedian.
No matter how many fighters are sent to storm their positions, they will resist, as was stated by the member from Odesa who joined up after Russia invaded.
“Most of my guys, they are volunteers. They had (a) good business, they had (a) good job, they had a good salary, but they came to fight for their homeland. He says it makes a difference.
The Prigozhin campaign for the liberation of Russian soldiers in the late 1990s, according to a television interview with the Russia Behind Bars
Private military contractor Wagner will have to look for new fighters beyond Russia’s prison system, a fertile recruiting ground for the past nine months, according to its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin said on his Telegram channel that they stopped the recruitment of prisoners. Those who work for us are living up to their obligations.
There are many plausible explanations for the change of tack, but no clue as to why the Russian billionaire made the decision. Prigozhin’s finances may have been stretched by the operation, which may have dwindled the pool of recruits. Either way, Prigozhin was told that his style of war no longer fit Russian priorities on the battlefield.
The number of inmates from Russian jails who signed up for the campaign may have dwindled because of the campaign’s lack of success.
Figures just released by the Russian Penitentiary Service may support that. They showed that the prison population fell by 6,000 in November and January compared to a fall of 23,000 inmates in last year’s September and October period.
They claim that many prisoners with just weeks left in their sentences signed up after being visited by Prigozhin. He arrived at the prisons in a helicopter and made several promises, one of which was that his criminal records would be wiped out.
“Only a handful in my unit came for money, most came because they had long sentences,” said one of the fighters. There were some who only had 12 days to serve, and they went anyway.
One of the lawyers who spoke to Agentstvo said the decline of volunteers from among the prison population was in part due to information about Wagner’s high casualties becoming known.
The finances of Concord Management have always been very opaque, with many subsidiaries involved. It is extremely difficult to know the source of cash to sustain an increase in ranks.
Prigozhin wrote a sarcastic reply to CNN asking if millions of people from the US were interested in joining the mercenary group.
Olga Romanova, who is with the prisoner advocacy group Russia Behind Bars, believes that the Russian Ministry of Defense is now in charge of any further recruitment in Russia’s prisons.
Ukrainian forces captured two fighters late last year. CNN is not disclosing their identities for their own safety. Both are married with children and were recruited while in prison. One was serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter.
The Ukrainians kept a close watch on the interview in the room where they stayed. CNN said they could end the interview at any time they wanted. They spoke in detail for more than an hour.
There were 90 of us. Sixty died in that first assault, killed by mortar fire. A few remained wounded, said the one who had first assault near Bilohorivka. A group is sent right away if it isn’t successful. If the second one isn’t successful, another group is sent.
The other fighter was involved in an assault lasting five days, through a forest near the city of Lysychansk on the Luhansk-Donetsk border in eastern Ukraine.
You can not help the wounded. The Ukrainians were firing heavily on us, so even if their wounds were minor, you’ve got to keep going, otherwise you’re the one getting hit by the fire.
The prisoner said he had instincts for self-preservation and others were not ready for it. Some of them drop their weapons in the forest. Dropping your weapons will bring you under enemy fire and lead to your death.
There was no evacuation of the wounded, he added. He said if you are wounded, you need to go away on your own and then you should administer first aid to yourself.
Casualties piled up by the dozen, the men said. When casualties arrive, one of the fighters said, you get orders to load them, and you don’t think about who is dead or wounded.
They became numb to the casualties and the killing of the Ukrainian soldiers they faced. “You’d think you’d feel something You just keep going after killing someone.
The other fighter reported a similar situation: “Our commander was told that if anyone gets cold feet, he would have to be eliminated. And if we failed to eliminate him, we would be eliminated for failing to eliminate him.”
One had disappeared without trace for four months, according to his brother. The other man was silent but sending his brother his salary from a rented office in a sealed bag. A third had appeared in a video with Prigozhin, portrayed as a lucky returnee. Yet a friend described his “zombie-like” appearance, heavy drinking and urgent desire to return to the front.
The selection process was so rudimentary that older prisoners only had to show they could march a few yards, one of the prisoners said. “They took almost everyone.”
The prisoner said that they had to fight the Nazis in order for them to free them. At the same time, he promised us wages, repayment of loans, and a clean history.”
Handling guns was a very basic training and they were soon to be ordered to carry out terrible assaults. The men said they were prepared for missions they weren’t planning on doing.
The last message of a man convicted of armed robbery and assault in Russia, to his wife Viktor Sevalnev
One said that he did not say anything about danger. “He talked about expunging all convictions, we would serve six months, all convictions would be expunged, an advance payment of 240,000 roubles (around $3,300) and also that our task was to hold the defense on the second line.”
“The command ordered me to dig in at my position, so I dug in at my position, awaiting evacuation. The group of 10 that they sent were all eliminated by the shooter.
I have never fought against the AFU and I don’t think it was the right choice. They brought us here under the wrong pretext. One thinks that we are at war but is not convinced that it is a just cause.
It is the last message Viktor Sevalnev would send. A man who had been sentenced to jail for armed robbery and assault was taken to battle for Russia in Ukraine. Sevalnev died from the act of survival after his colleagues died in an assault on a factory outside Soledar.
In a last message to his wife, he said he feared officials from the Russian Ministry of Defense would soon take him from his hospital bed, where he recorded the audio message, and execute him. Days later, his body was returned to his wife in Moscow, in a closed coffin.
The fate of a Ukrainian prisoner’s unit during the September 11 September 1941 attack on a key factory in Soledar: sources close to the front lines
A Ukrainian intelligence official confirmed to CNN that prisoners recently captured by Ukrainian forces had said they were directly employed by the ministry.
Usov believes the development has been caused by internal squabbling among the Russian military leadership and that the defense minister Sergei Shoigu and the new head of the Ukraine operation Valery Gerasimov are creating a convict resource they could directly control through the ministry. While the ministry has fewer convicts, they will be used as cannon fodder, according to Usov.
Grainy footage obtained by Gulagu.net shows Sevalnev and his unit celebrating pre-deployment by dancing at a camp inside of Luhansk. It shows them eating and joking behind the frontlines as they prepare for the assault on a key factory in Soledar which would prove fatal for the majority of Sevalnev’s unit.
Sevalnev’s wife declined to be interviewed for this report, but his audio messages and images of him from the war were supplied to CNN by Gulagu.net. Russian court documents obtained by CNN show Sevalnev was convicted for theft, and should, according to his sentencing, have been in jail when he died. A month of death is recorded in his grave, which is outside Moscow.
He said that none of the surgeries were performed on anyone. CNN will not reveal his name or the other surviving convicts for their safety. People are walking in the hospital, with bullet wounds, and they have small fragments of metal in their legs.
A former soldier before his imprisonment, he also described catastrophic losses. He stated that the unit had 130 people, but also had many amputees and was likely to have 40 left. He said his unit had only 15 survivors and that the 08807 was now called 40321, or “Storm unit.” He said that the meat grinder was in short. He told CNN in the past few days he had been sent back to the frontline, his injuries unhealed.
The war is war, I do not have any complaints. Some come here, hear the machine gun, and run. It is not good. “They set everyone else up as no one had my back”, he said. This soldier was wounded severely in the leg in October, after 25 days on the front, but described how he felt no fear. “In the trench, 2-6 meters from me a shell lands, soil falls down to the trench, but I don’t feel any fear at all. I don’t know why it happens to me.
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Over the summer, three families of convicts appeared in a CNN report and said that their loved one’s fate appears to be no better.
Putin’s spokesman said last month that any presidential pardoning prisoners would likely be classified. “There are open decrees and there are decrees with various classifications of secrecy,” he said. “That is precisely why I cannot say anything about these decrees. I can really confirm that the entire procedure for pardoning prisoners is carried out in strict accordance with Russian law.”
Some prisoners may have been convicted of a crime and not been snared by the recruiting of Wagner. Tanzanian student Nemes Tarimo was on an exchange in Moscow when he was apparently arrested on drugs charges and held on remand. He was convicted in March last year to seven years in jail, according to the Tanzanian foreign ministry, citing information from their Russian counterparts.
Tarimo died in October near Bakhmut in western Russia, according to a video released by Wagner. Tarimo’s body was returned to his native country of Tanzania last month, the foreign ministry said, in order to accept a fight in exchange for money and freedom.
His cousin Rehema Makrene Kigoga told CNN: “Since his childhood, Nemes was a very obedient boy. He wasn’t a scamp, but was a very religious person.” She also said they had heard nothing about his recruitment until after his death. “When he was alive, we never heard about this report but now that he’s died we are told he was arrested for drug-related offenses. It makes us feel very sad as a family. He never had a desire to be a soldier.
A Russian prisoner — a former prisoner who lived in the very last death throes of the Soviet Union — has come out of prison
rigozhin spent his whole 20s in jail. He emerges just before his 30th birthday into this rapidly changing country [in] the very last death throes of the Soviet Union,” Walker says. He was released from prison and proceeded to sell hotdogs. But very quickly, he moves on to bigger things.”
“The basic pitch is six months: It’s going to be horrible. It’s going to be very difficult. If you try to run away, we will shoot you. “If you don’t give us your completes, we will shoot you,” Walker says. You serve for six months and then you are free to go.
“It’s just so out of the realms of fantasy that this former convict is going to fly around prisons in his helicopter and offer people salvation for fighting for him at the front, and then lead these battalions of prisoners to their almost certain death. … It’s hard to believe, it’s so Orwellian. But yet it has happened.”
He is a big guy. He’s got a shaved head. He speaks in quite coarse language. It’s clear that this is not a polished guy. This is a man who isn’t well-educated or cultured. When we were working on the article, we got hold of a few prisoners in prison who are still talking to each other via text message, and we talked to them about what they thought about this man, why people agreed to go, and so on. “We could see from this guy that he was one of us,” they all said to us. We kind of respected him because he’d also been in prison.” … They all said, You could see that he was a former [inmate], the way he talked, the way he kind of gave his word that if they fought for him, he would give them their freedom. The people said that they didn’t trust normal Russian officials, but this man had something in common with them and they thought he was one of them.
He’s not sugarcoating this at all. He’s not pretending that this is going to be pleasant or this is going to be a holiday. He’s basically saying, look, you’re probably going to die. It’s going to be absolutely horrible. The fighting is very intense. We’re going to throw you right in at the front line. I’ve got your back if you survive this.
The murder of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his friend Lyubov – an investigation that uncovered executions as punishment for disobeying orders
Perhaps a couple of weeks [of training]. The reports we’ve had say that the convicts are not used on difficult strategic operations or anything particularly targeted and careful. They’re really used as cannon fodder. Ukrainians who have been on the other side of the lines have told people that it’s strength in numbers that makes them stand out. It’s a little bit of disregard for what life is all about. And for those who have not fancied it and have decided that they want to either defect or don’t want to advance, we’ve had numerous credible reports that there’s been executions of their own people as kind of punishment for disobeying orders and to keep everybody else in line and forcing them to to sort of surge forward in these pretty grim, almost suicidal movements forward. …
Suspicious events tend to occur to people who look into Prigozhin’s activities. Soon after, one of the journalists [from Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper] who did one of the biggest investigations into Prigozhin had a severed ram’s head delivered to his newsroom and a funeral wreath delivered to his home address. It’s kind of like a mafia touch.
The team of Alexei Navalny did an extensive series of investigations into how Prigozhin was able to win these government contracts. One of Navalny’s top aides was the main investigator on these. After the investigation came out, her husband was stabbed in the legs by an unknown person who ran off and he collapsed at home. I was talking to Lyubov about this recently when we were preparing this article about Prigozhin. Now she is convinced that, of course, this attack was linked to her investigation and they managed to rush her husband to [the] hospital. He got very quick medical attention. She said that if it had been a little bit longer, he might not have survived. It was a tranquilizer that was injected into his leg. So, yes, some pretty sinister things can happen to you if you cross Yevgeny Prigozhin, let’s put it that way.