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Kyiv: the Wagner group back fighting in Ukraine

Ukrainian sources say former members of the Wagner Group have returned to the battlefield in Ukraine.

In May, the Wagner mercenaries withdrew from Bakhmut, handing over control of the territory to the Russian military.

Serhii Cherevaty, Deputy Commander for communications for troops in eastern Ukraine, said on Wednesday that former Wagner fighters, who returned to Ukraine, were subordinate to the Russian Defence Ministry and its affiliated structures. Cherevatyi told CNN:

“As of now, there are several hundred of them in our direction, on the Eastern Front, in different areas.”

Ukrainian soldiers involved in the offensive near the besieged town of Bakhmut also told CNN that former Wagner soldiers had returned to the area. A drone operator with call-sign “Groove” told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen on the ground in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday:

“Wagner is here too. They came back, they swiftly changed their commanders and returned here.”

Since Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a plane crash on August 23, the Kremlin has sought to bring the group under tighter state control.

The adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, notes that the Wagner Group fighters have signed contracts with the Russian Defence Ministry to help the Russian army in the toughest parts of the frontline, thus playing the last chord of their battle in Ukraine. Podolyak does not give the approximate number of former mercenaries returning. He wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday:

“Remember: the Wagner PMC no longer exists.”

Oleksandr Tarnavsky, the Ukrainian General leading the counter-offensive in southern Ukraine, told CNN last week that Wagner fighters continue to appear “here and there” on the front line. He said:

“The fact is that their badges appear here and there – that’s been constant.”

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