Russia assigns mercenaries to front line sectors as infantry losses rise – UK

  • Wagner’s fighters unlikely to change invasion trajectory – UK
  • Ukraine tries to disrupt supply lines and bomb bridges
  • Russia strikes Kyiv region for first time in weeks

KYIV, July 29 (Reuters) – Russia has sent mercenaries to hold sections of the frontline in Ukraine in a sign it is short of combat infantry, the British Ministry of Defense said on Friday, as Kyiv intensifies its counter-offensive in the south. .

Greater reliance on paid fighters from Russia’s private military company Wagner Group for frontline duties rather than their usual special operations work would be another sign that the Russian military is under pressure six months on. the beginning of his war in Ukraine.

But Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update that Wagner’s mercenaries were unlikely to make up for the loss of regular infantry units or change the trajectory of the Russian invasion.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

“This is a significant change from the group’s previous employment since 2015, when it typically undertook missions separate from regular large-scale Russian military activity,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Wagner and the Kremlin were not immediately available for comment outside of normal business hours.

Officials in Kyiv said on Wednesday they had observed a “massive redeployment” of Russian forces to the south, where British defense officials believe the Russian 49th Army, stationed on the west bank of the Dnipro, is vulnerable.

The southern city of Kherson, key to Russia’s land supply lines from Russian-annexed Crimea, was now virtually cut off from other Russian-occupied territories, British intelligence said on Thursday.

The Kherson region fell to Russian forces shortly after the start of what Moscow calls “a special military operation” on February 24. Ukraine describes the Russian invasion as an imperial-style war of conquest.

The Ukrainian military has used long-range missile systems supplied by the West to severely damage three bridges over the Dnipro in recent weeks, making it harder for Russia to supply its forces on the western bank.

Ukraine said its planes struck five Russian strongholds around Kherson and another nearby town on Thursday, at the center of its largest counteroffensive in the conflict.

Russia shelled the outskirts of Kyiv on Thursday for the first time in weeks. Fifteen people were injured when missiles hit military installations in Vyshhorod district, on the outskirts of the capital, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.

The air raid sirens sounded as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed parliament alongside visiting Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

The attack shattered the sense of normalcy that has come alive in Kyiv since Russian forces abandoned attempts to capture the city in the first weeks of the war, in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.

More than 10 Russian missiles also hit the Chernihiv region northeast of Kyiv, regional governor Vyacheslav Chausov told Ukrainian television on Thursday. Like Kyiv, Chernihiv had not been targeted for weeks.

The Northern District Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said more than 20 missiles had been fired at the Chernihiv region bordering Russia from a base in Belarus – Russia’s ally.

Reuters could not verify reports from the battlefield.


Ukraine’s counterattacks in the south come as Russia continues to fight for control of the entire industrialized Donbass region in the east, including the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russian forces shelled the town of Bakhmut, which was cited by Russia as a main target in its advance through Donetsk, four times on Thursday, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram. At least three people were killed and three were injured, he said.

As the fighting rages, international efforts have continued to try to reopen Ukrainian ports and allow exports of grain and other commodities.

Allowing the safe passage of grain shipments from Ukraine should ease the shortages that have left tens of millions of people around the world facing soaring food prices and hunger.

Russia and Ukraine struck a deal last week to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports, but UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said “crucial” details for safe passage of ships were still being worked out.

Griffiths hoped the first shipment of grain from a Ukrainian Black Sea port could take place as early as Friday. Read more

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Stephen Coates; Edition by Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment