Russian Wagner Group Tried and Failed To Assassinate Ukrainian President – Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group are expected to triple their numbers, to more than 1,000 to assist Russian aims in the invasion of Ukraine. While the relatively small number was a proverbial “drop in the bucket” of the more than 150,000 Russian troops already in the country, their presence belied a more sinister aim.
Wagner mercenaries were sent to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and other key government officials including the Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko and his brother. However, the attempt and others by Chechen forces failed due to the efforts of Ukrainian security and their special forces units.
Markian Lubkivskyi, an advisor to Ukraine’s defense minister spoke to CNN and said that the plot to assassinate Zelensky and Shmyhal was uncovered by Ukrainian officials and foiled before they could accomplish their goal.
“They wanted to assassinate the leadership of Ukraine: our President and Prime Minister. That was the goal and a couple of them were sent to Ukraine without any success,” Lubkivskyi said.
After the plot was investigated by Ukrainian intelligence and special forces tasked with the protection of the president, they moved to stop the plan.
The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said in a Facebook post that “The main task of criminals is to eliminate the top military and political leadership of Ukraine.”
“Putin personally ordered another attack by one of the few proxies,” the post said. “All previous attempts have ended in the failure and elimination of terrorists,” the post added.
“All these documents and the necessary proof will be presented to the International Court,” Lubkkivskyi said, adding that the details can’t be released for operational reasons just yet.
The Wagner Group Bloody History:
The Wagner Group was founded by Dmitriy Valeryevich Utkin, a Russian special operations colonel who fought in the wars in Chechnya. Wagner was first identified in 2014 when it backed pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. At the time it was believed to only have about 300-400 ex-military members when they deployed to Crimea during its annexation by Russia. The men in unidentified plain uniforms were the “little green men” that Putin referred to in a later speech.
It is believed to be funded and owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close confidant of Putin, who is also known as “Putin’s Chef” due to his catering contracts in Moscow. Prigozhin also funds Russian “troll farms” that push disinformation programs.
Since then, the Wagner Group has been involved in numerous countries including Syria, Mozambique, Sudan, Libya, and the Central African Republic (C.A.R.). The Kremlin insists that Wagner is a private military contracting company (PMC) and that Moscow has no control over it or its activities. However, Wagner’s mercs travel to and from its contracts on Russian military aircraft and receive its pre-deployment training at a Russian military base from the GRU.
Wagner’s mercenaries have been accused of numerous human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in almost every country they’ve been deployed to including Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, and Mali. Their actions, ostensibly to combat jihadist terrorists, is more akin to helping military juntas or authoritarian figures hold on to power. Their payment is slight compared to Western PMCs but also consists of vast mineral rights given to Moscow. However, because of their “PMC” status, it gives Moscow, the thinnest layer of deniability.
A video surfaced from Syria shows Wagner mercenaries filming themselves while taking a sledgehammer to a Syrian man who reportedly deserted his army post. His legs and chest were crushed before he was beheaded and then set his corpse on fire.
The killing of three Russian journalists in the C.A.R., who arrived to report on Wagner’s activities, was rumored to have been conducted by “three white men” in a vehicle that was spotted near the site of the ambush, and not by rebels.
Utkin, the commander of Wagner is a walking contradiction of Putin’s stated desire to “de-nazi” Ukraine. Utkin named the Wagner Group after the German composer and is considered a far-right Neo-Nazi with SS runes and rank tattooed on his collarbone with a Nazi eagle tattooed on his chest.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.