Wagner Soldiers Targeting Foreign Aid Workers and Soldiers, Locals Say: In an interview with 19FortyFive on Wednesday, retired U.S. Army SGT Jonathan Lubecky described how locals in Donetsk Oblast believe that Wagner Group soldiers are purposely targeting foreign aid workers and military soldiers assisting Ukrainian civilians.
During an hour-long conversation, Lubecky described how he works with local people in Donetsk Oblast to provide humanitarian aid for school children and local people struggling to stay warm and find food.
Wagner Group Should Be Feared
Throughout the conversation, Lubecky, an Iraq veteran who served in the Marine Corps and the Army, was reluctant to agree to share his exact location over fears that he may become a target for Wagner Group private mercenaries.
“I was told that I should leave my military ID in Kyiv because if I’m found with a U.S. passport I’ll get bullets in the brain,” Lubecky told 19FortyFive.
“And here’s what I’m personally also worried about. If we published the name of the towns I’m working in, just because I went there, it could become a target.”
Wagner brutality has been well documented throughout the invasion of Ukraine.
Wagner private mercenaries have been accused of torturing and killing both Ukrainian civilians and soldiers.
One disturbing video released in November showed a Wagner soldier killing a Ukrainian soldier with a sledgehammer.
Just days ago, a British intelligence update on the Donetsk region – where Lubecky is delivering aid to schools and local people – revealed how low-level Wagner officers are far from combat, watching low-level soldiers sent to die from UAVs fitted with cameras.
“Russian military proxy group Wagner continues to take a major role in attritional combat around the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut. In recent months, it has developed offensive tactics to make use of the large number of poorly trained convicts it has recruited,” the update reads, adding that individual fighters have also been issued smartphones and tablets that show their designated axis of advance and assault objectives.
Locals Have Faith In Zelenskyy
When asked about how local people feel about the conflict, Lubecky told 19FortyFive that they remain unsure how it will end and frequently ask him whether he thinks Ukraine can win.
“Yes, local people have faith in Zelenskyy,” Lubecky said, adding that Zelenskyy’s refusal to leave Ukraine when the invasion began has won him much support in the country.
“And it’s interesting, I’ve talked about that and before the war, people kind of thought he was a comedian and actor and a joke. And, I’ll be honest, you know why Putin thought he could do this? Because he thought Zelenskyy was a p*ssy and get on a plane the same as the Afghan leadership and he didn’t. Him going to DC is the first time he left the country since the war, and everybody has mad respect for Zelenskyy now. Simply because he stayed.”
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.