UK Defense Ministry: Mercenary Group Fighting for Russia in Ukraine

“In the last three days, pro-Russian forces have made tactical advances towards the center of the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast,” Britain’s defense ministry said in an intelligence update posted to Twitter on Friday about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Elements of 2nd Army Corps, the pro-Russia militia of the Luhansk region, likely advanced into the villages of Opytine and lvangrad to the south of the town,” the update said. “There have been few, if any, other settlements seized by regular Russian or separatist forces since early July.”

“However,” the report said, “forces led by the private military company Wagner Group have achieved some localized gains in the Donbas: Wagner likely remains heavily involved in the Bakhmut fighting.”

“Russia likely views seizing Bakhmut as a preliminary to advancing on the Kramatorsk-Sloviansk urban area which is the most significant population center of Donetsk Oblast held by Ukraine,” the intelligence update said.

While Russia continues to pursue “offensive operations in central Donbas and is, very slowly, making progress,” the update said, the Russian campaign is “undermined by the Ukrainian pressure against its northern and southern flanks, and by severe shortages of munitions and manpower.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily address Thursday, “Russia is sending thousands of its mobilized men to the front. They have no significant military training, but their command does not need it at all. They expect that the mobilized Russians will be able to survive in the war for at least a few weeks, then they will die, and then new ones will be sent to the front. But during this time, such use by Russian generals of their people as ‘cannon fodder’ makes it possible to create additional pressure on our defenders.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine would “create a special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine and ensure the operation of a special compensation mechanism so that Russia will bear responsibility for this war at the cost of its assets.”

He said, “Terror must be responded with force at all levels: on the battlefield, with sanctions, and legally.”

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