Mercenaries working for a Kremlin-linked network of private security contractors have taken up arms in Ukraine on Russia’s behalf, U.S. and British officials say, and appear to also be recruiting from inside Russian prisons.
In Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, about 1,000 Wagner mercenaries have been concentrated largely in the country’s east, where Pentagon officials say Russia has refocused its war effort after failing to capture the capital, Kyiv. Germany’s foreign intelligence service claimed in April to have intercepted communications that could link the Wagner Group to indiscriminate killings of Ukrainian civilians. In August, Ukraine said it struck a base used by the shadowy paramilitary fighters in the eastern Luhansk region.
Russian officials have denied ties to the Wagner Group, whose true ownership and funding sources remain unclear. But experts say it has deep links to the Kremlin, serving as a tactical tool for Moscow in hot spots where Russia has political and financial interests. Western intelligence agencies have linked the group to a Russian oligarch and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As the bloody war in Ukraine drags on, within Russia, the public has increasingly embraced Wagner fighters.
Here are some facts about the Wagner Group and what it’s doing in Ukraine.
The latest: Russia fired at least 85 missiles on at least six major cities in Ukraine on November 15, in one of the most widespread attacks of the war so far. The strikes came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking by video link, presented a 10-point peace plan to G-20 leaders at a summit in Indonesia. As in previous Russian missile attacks, critical civilian infrastructure appeared to be primary targets. Parts of several cities that were hit were left without electrical power on Tuesday afternoon.
Russia’s Gamble: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior U.S., Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.
Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.