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Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin have reportedly sent in more than 400 mercenaries from arguably the world’s most effective paid-for army, the Wagner Group, to take out Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Wagner Group is a Russian private military outfit renowned for being extremely good at killing and covertly carrying out missions for the Kremlin. Russia flew in the mercenaries from Africa to Kyiv five weeks ago, according to the Times of London. The Wagner Group has been linked to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Wagner Group is said to be run by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is a close ally of the Russian president and is often dubbed “Putin’s chef.” He was reportedly paid a huge sum of money for the mission.
Their reported primary goal is to assassinate Zelenskyy, in effect decapitating the Ukrainian leadership and paving the way for Russia to take over while receiving hefty financial bonuses in return. The hit list also allegedly includes Ukraine’s prime minister, the entire Ukrainian cabinet, the mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko, and his brother Wladimir.
Hundreds of Russia-aligned mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private military company, are operating in Kyiv, according to reports, confirmed by an advisor to the Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs.
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) February 28, 2022
The Ukrainians received the leaked intel on Saturday. A “hard” curfew was imposed hours later in Kyiv from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. for at least the next 36 hours and probably longer, “for more effective defense of the capital and the security of its inhabitants.”
“All civilians who will be on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy’s sabotage and reconnaissance groups,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned via Twitter on Saturday. “Please treat the situation with understanding and do not go outside.”
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Monday that there are, indeed, reconnaissance forces in Kyiv but he could not verify that those forces were ordered to assassinate Zelenskyy.
The Wagner Group and its associates were sanctioned in December by the European Union for reportedly serious human rights abuses that include “torture and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings, and destabilizing activities in countries including Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, and Ukraine’s Donbas region,” according to Fox News.
(Video Credit: TRT World)
From October of 2015 to at least 2018, the Wagner group fought with the Russian military and the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian lieutenant who also served in the Russian Federation’s main intelligence agency or GRU, is thought to be the founder of the group, according to ThePrint.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) January 29, 2021
In a recent pic published online, Dimitry Utkin, the head of Wagner PMC, appears with Nazi tattoos: the Nazi collar tabs (with Waffen SS bolts) and a Reichsaddle Eagle.
He received Russian State’s decoration in 2016 (https://t.co/AaUFCJPrAS).
Link: https://t.co/IueQ5GbHhZ pic.twitter.com/EmXDvV5sUa
— MrRevinsky (@Kyruer) March 12, 2021
The mercenary group was involved in the Donbas conflict in 2014, including Crimea, fighting purported “Ukrainian fascists.”
Intelligence officials believe that the mercenaries may have been operating in Kyiv for months. The group ostensibly supplies Putin with plausible deniability if Zelenskyy is assassinated. The use of a nerve agent or some other lethal form of poison that is non-traceable would also provide cover for Putin.
“They are very effective because they are hard to pin down. They can appear from the shadows, do very violent things, and then disappear again, without it being obvious who was responsible. They are not directly linked to the Russian government and therefore they are plausibly deniable,” General Sir Richard Barrons, who is a former commander of Joint Forces Command, remarked according to the Daily Mail.
Russia has now repeatedly threatened Ukraine with nuclear weapons and it appears that the negotiations on the border have produced no results as of Monday. The Ukrainians have vowed to fight this war all the way and not give Putin or his paid-for-hire killers an inch of ground.
The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, put it bluntly, “If [Putin] wants to kill himself, he doesn’t need to use nuclear arsenal. He has to do what the guy in Berlin did in a bunker in May 1945.”
“If [Putin] wants to kill himself, he doesn’t need to use nuclear arsenal. He has to do what the guy in Berlin did in a bunker in May 1945.”
— Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations pic.twitter.com/KaN9NgZyP3
— The Recount (@therecount) February 28, 2022
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