Sunday’s report out of Ukraine revealed that the headquarters of a prominent Russian mercenary group had been heavily damaged in an attack, dealing another setback to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s increasingly beleaguered invasion.
The report emerged from the city of Kadiivka in the Luhansk region, where the Wagner mercenary group was headquartered in a hotel. Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said the hotel was struck by Ukrainian forces, with significant losses suffered among the group’s private military contractors (PMCs). According to the governor, half of the contractors are expected to die as a result of the attack.
According to a BBC report, Wagner Group is a state-sponsored mercenary outfit that takes orders from the Kremlin and has been accused of numerous war crimes and abuses. Over the years, it has been deployed to wartime theaters such as Crimea, Syria, Libya, Mali, and the Central African Republic.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close Putin ally and the Russian oligarch in charge of Wagner, confirmed in the wake of the attack that neither he nor his son, Pavel, were present at the hotel.
Luhansk is the easternmost region of Ukraine and shares a long border with Russia. Along with the Donetsk region, it makes up the larger Donbas region that has been the centrepiece of the invasion, with the Kremlin saying that ethnic Russians were being persecuted in the area based on dubious evidence. The Donbas region and two others were formally annexed by Russia in late September, though these claims remain broadly unrecognized on the international stage.
The conflict in Ukraine has escalated in recent weeks, with Russian strikes battering southern cities like Odesa, leaving residents without power for long periods as the winter season begins.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed in a statement that roughly 1.5 million residents in and around Odesa were without power following an overnight attack by Russian forces. Despite that setback, the statement also said that most of the Iranian drones used to carry out the attack had been shot down.
“In total, Russian terrorists used 15 Shahed-136 drones against Odesa,” the statement read. “During one night on Saturday. This is the true attitude of Russia towards Odesa, towards Odesa residents—deliberate bullying, a deliberate attempt to bring disaster to the city. Our sky defenders managed to shoot down ten drones out of 15. Well done!”
While timelines from Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials differ, it is generally expected that the repairs to the region’s power grid will take longer than usual due to the intensity of the attacks from Moscow.
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