Wagner Group HQ Targeted by Ukraine: German composer Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung – the last of his cycle of four music dramas – chronicled the myth of the destruction of the gods and Valhalla in the final battle with the forces of evil.
It is doubtful that the particular music was playing at the hotel in Russian-occupied Kadiivka, Luhansk, which served as the headquarters of the Russian Wagner mercenary group on Sunday when it was targeted by the Ukrainian military.
However, it certainly would have been fitting, as the paramilitary group – which has been linked to neo-Nazis and far-right extremists – was named for the composer, who was a personal favorite of Adolf Hitler.
According to Ukrainian officials, dozens of members of the state-sponsored Wagner Group were reportedly killed in the strike – though Russia has conceded that there were just a handful of casualties.
The private military company, set up by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former restaurateur and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has repeatedly been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses, the BBC reported.
Members of the Wagner Group had previously been deployed in Crimea, Syria, Libya, Mali, and the Central African Republic.
Russian Barracks Also Targeted
Another Wagner Group unit may have also been targeted in the occupied city of Melitopol on Sunday morning.
Videos posted to social media showed what was claimed to be a Russian barracks in the southern city as it was engulfed in a fiery blaze, while other reports suggested that the hotel/former resort building was being used by the mercenary unit.
According to witnesses at least ten explosions were heard, although it is likely some of those may have been Russian anti-aircraft guns.
The casualties were likely high, as numerous personnel had apparently been gathered in the mess hall when it was struck by rockets fired from a U.S.-made HIMARS rocket.
Explosions were also reported overnight in the Russian-occupied Crimea, including Sevastopol and Simferopol. Melitopol, in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast, has been under Russian occupation since early March – while Russia illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula in early 2014.
Russian Strikes Continue
The Ukrainian strike on Melitopol came as virtually all non-critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian port of Odesa was without power after Russia used Iranian-made drones on Saturday to hit two energy facilities.
The attacks left 1.5 million people cut off from electricity.
“The situation in the Odesa region is very difficult,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address, adding, “Unfortunately, the hits were critical, so it takes more than just time to restore electricity … It doesn’t take hours, but a few days, unfortunately.”
According to reports, Russia employed 15 Iranian-made Shahed drones in the recent attacks. That suggests that the drones have been modified to open in wintery conditions, as previous media reports had suggested that the Kremlin was forced to ground the unmanned aerial systems due to the cold.
It could suggest that the long winter to come will be one of drone strikes and artillery duels.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.