RT witnesses Wagner group fighting in Donbass (VIDEO)
RT’s Murad Gazdiev was granted a rare opportunity to embed with the Wagner Group, a secretive Russian private military company, as it fights in Donbass.
The contractors, who call themselves ‘the Orchestra of Wagner’ or ‘the Musicians’, conceal their identities. The name is thought to have come from the call sign of the unit’s founder Dmitry Utkin, a veteran of two Chechen wars. Richard Wagner was a famous 19th century German composer but the name has also been used for characters in literature, computer games, comic books, and even by a motorcycle manufacturer.
Before Murad joined them, the unit had recently pushed Ukrainian troops out of the village of Klinovoe in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
The Wagner fighters fired mortars as Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist Aidar Battalion and the ostensibly elite 10th Mountain Assault Brigade were trying to hold them off. “Artillery and mortar duels here are deafening and endless,” Gazdiev said while reporting.
During their offensive, the Wagner troops came under fire from cluster munitions and had to deal with tripwire anti-personnel mines left by the Ukrainians. “What the sappers can remove safely, they do. What they can’t – or what they deem could be a trap – they blow [up],” Gazdiev said.
The fighting in Donbass intensified after Russia launched a full-scale military campaign against Ukraine in late February.
Before the conflict, the outfit had reportedly been operating in the Middle East and Africa. The Kremlin has denied any ties between the Wagner Group and the Russian government.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.