Wagner Returns to Eastern Ukraine

Today, claims made by Ukrainian soldiers about mercenary group Wagner’s return to the battlefield have been confirmed by officials from the Ukrainian government. They claim that at least five hundred Wagnerites are returning from Belarus or have already, where they relocated following the expulsion of the group from Russia after an attempted armed coup and the death of their leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died in a still-disputed explosion or shootdown of his plane over Russia’s Tver region. Previously Russian Telegram channels had reported the return of Wagner mercenaries to the frontlines in Ukraine, although had not specified in what capacity.

Ukraine claims these 500 returnees from Wagner bases in Belarus will likely negotiate new contracts to serve in the Russian Armed Forces. They also claim around 8,000 members of Wagner PMC were settled in Belarus prior to the death of Prigozhin. They assert also that the leadership of Wagner is no more and that the organization has fallen apart, as they say Wagner members are scattering to different areas including to Africa likely to countries where Wagner presence exists already.


“Former Wagner Group fighters appeared near Bakhmut to plug gaps in the Russian army’s defense, believes an advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak. “Speaking of the ‘return of the Wagner PMC’ to the Bakhmut direction: Remember, there is no longer any Wagner PMC,” the statement reads.

According to Podolyak, it ceased to exist along with the elimination of its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the commander, Dmitry Utkin, as well as the raiding by Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of Russia, Valery Gerasimov. They cleared out the leadership of this organization.

“Today, there are only former fighters of a terrorist group who have gone in different directions: to Africa, civilian-criminal life in the Russian regions, or they have signed contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense and agreed to play the final chord, temporarily plugging the Russian gap in the Bakhmut direction,” Podolyak wrote.

He notes that the media effect of this event is greater than its actual significance. The only purpose of it is to temporarily distract from the news of the liberation of Klishchiivka and Andriivka and the defeat of the main combat-capable Russian formations in this direction.”