Smiling alongside mercenaries in full fight gear, that is how Russian battle propagandist Sergei Sreda marked a go to to Wagner’s Ukraine headquarters final week – saying they welcomed him ‘like household’ and informed ‘humorous tales’.
But Sreda truly condemned the lads to demise – freely giving the bottom’s location in the occupied metropolis of Popasna after inadvertently photographing a avenue signal that contained the tackle of a close-by bomb shelter.
That was all specialists wanted to find the bottom, which Ukraine then used to launch a HIMARS strike. Confirmation that it had been struck got here on Sunday, when Telegram channels with hyperlinks to Wagner started posting pictures of the aftermath – together with troopers being carried away on stretchers.
It is simply the newest embarrassing blunder for Vladimir Putin’s forces nearly six months into what was speculated to be a days-long battle in Ukraine – having been pressured to retreat from Kyiv, seen the Black Sea flagship Moskva sunk, withdrawn from Snake Island, and final week seen an airbase in Crimea all-but wiped off the map.
Sergei Sreda, a Russian battle propagandist, visited Wagner’s HQ in Ukraine final week to pose with troopers – however inadvertently revealed its location with this photograph, which included a avenue signal with the tackle of a close-by bomb shelter (prime left)
Ukraine mentioned it used the data in that photograph to launch a HIMARS assault on the bottom, with affirmation coming from Wagner-linked Telegram channels on Sunday that it had been hit (pictured, the aftermath of the strike)
It just isn’t clear what number of mercenaries had been killed or wounded in the strike, however photographs uploaded to Telegram accounts linked to the group present males being carried out on stretchers
Who are the Wagner Group?
The mercenary group is taken into account to be on the beck and name of Putin to hold out his soiled work.
The army-for-hire, allegedly run by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin – an in depth ally of the Russian president who is usually dubbed ‘Putin’s chef’ – was flown into Ukraine in April and supplied an enormous sum for the mission.
Highly educated and brutally violent in equal measure, Wagner mercenaries have been charged with spearheading Russia’s advance in the Donbas.
The group is believed to have been liable for the seize of Popasna, a key metropolis in the Luhansk area, which fell to Russian forces again in May and seems to have been adopted as their headquarters in the nation.
Gruesome photographs have since emerged displaying the severed head and arms of a Ukrainian soldier impaled on a metallic fence in the town – with Wagner blamed for it.
It follows a sample of battle crimes, rapes and torture that Wagner has been blamed for in war-zones stretching from Africa, to the Middle East and South America.
Its troopers – typically these deemed unfit to serve in Russia’s common army or dismissed in shame – are parachuted into battle zones the place the presence of the Russian military would entice undesirable consideration.
Amid heavy losses in Ukraine, Prigozhin is alleged to be personally recruiting new troops from Russian prisoners – providing murderers clemency in return for six months on the frontlines.
The Kremlin denied the group’s existence for years, however state media has acknowledged its presence in Ukraine.
Putin claims to know nothing in regards to the group’s operations which permits him to successfully wash his arms of the atrocities they commit.
But, in actuality, he’s considered pulling the strings.
Sreda’s go to additionally appears to have coincided with a go to to the frontline by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch who owns Wagner and has been dubbed ‘Putin’s chef’ as a result of he rose to prominence throwing lavish banquets for the Russian chief.
Another photograph uploaded to his Telegram channel on August 8 – and since deleted – exhibits him shaking arms with a person who appears to be like very like Prigozhin, as a rifle-carrying thug stands close by.
Unconfirmed reviews which have emerged on Telegram declare that Prigozhin has not been seen since seen the strike, and those that know him are in a ‘gentle panic’.
However, there was no official affirmation from both Russia or Ukraine that he was on the base when it was struck.
Wager is an army-for-hire whose existence was denied by the Kremlin for years, however is considered on the beck-and-call of Putin himself.
The group is used to struggle wars on behalf of the Kremlin in areas of the world the place direct Russian army involvement would draw undesirable consideration.
Wager is believed to function in Africa, the Middle East and South America, the place allegations of battle crimes, rape and torture by its troops are frequent.
Mercenaries are sometimes recruited from the ranks of Russia’s common army, typically having been discharged for poor conduct.
Prigozhin can be thought to recruit from prisons, and is alleged to be in the center of a hiring spree amid heavy casualties in Ukraine.
Murderers are allegedly being supplied clemency from jail sentences supplied they’re keen to struggle for six months on the frontlines.
Prigozhin got here to prominence arranging lavish Kremlin features for the Russian president – incomes himself the nickname ‘Putin’s chef’.
Next, he was linked to pro-Putin troll factories pumping out supportive propaganda in Russia and the West, and to the Wagner personal military which is lively in Ukraine, Syria and Africa.
He disputes the hyperlink to Wagner, regardless of claims he has been seen personally recruiting prisoners – together with convicted murderers – to struggle in the battle in Ukraine.
He reportedly informed inmates: ‘I used to be jailed, too. Now I’m a Hero of Russia. We want your expertise.’
Putin final month awarded him Russia’s prime honour. In Soviet occasions, he was jailed for theft, fraud, and involving youngsters in crime.
‘He is alive, even swearing,’ a supply from Popasna, not associated to Wagner, informed VCHK-OGPU Telegram channel.
Video exhibits what look like Wagner troops combing by way of the ruins of their destroyed headquarters in Popasna after it was struck by Ukraine
Video exhibits troopers believed to be Wagner troops loading their lifeless and wounded comrades into the again of an ambulance in Popasna
Sreda (proper) additionally posted a picture of himself shaking arms with a person who seems to be Yevgeny Prigozhin (left), a Russian oligarch who owns Wagner, on the base. It just isn’t clear whether or not Prigozhin was nonetheless there when the rocket assault occurred
Prigozhin (left) is an oligarch who rose to prominence organising lavish features for Vladimir Putin (centre), incomes him the nickname ‘Putin’s chef’
It reported with verification that he was being evacuated to Burdenko hospital in Moscow.
A supply near Wagner denied he had been killed.
‘This just isn’t the primary time they’ve buried him,’ mentioned the supply, saying that earlier Ukrainian reviews had wrongly reported his demise in earlier incidents.
‘So there’ll most likely be no official denials this time both. They are merely not wanted,’ mentioned the account.
War correspondent Yury Kotenok mentioned Prigozhin was not wounded.
But there was additionally a declare of ‘gentle panic’ that Prigozhin had not been seen in the wake of the strike.
Wagner sources appeared to substantiate the very fact of a strike on its base in Popasna.
The personal military is seen as essential to Putin’s battle effort on the frontlines amid claims over the failings of his common forces.