The Wagner Group flew in mercenaries from Africa to assassinate Zelinsky
“More than 400 Russian mercenaries are operating in Kyiv with orders from the Kremlin to assassinate President Zelensky and 23 other Ukrainian leaders.”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Mercenaries from the Wagner Group, the security company under the control of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were flown in from Africa, where they were undertaking other operations.
Their presence is understood to be the reason for the 36-hour curfew of Kyiv which was announced on Saturday (26 February), in an attempt to “sweep” the capital for “saboteurs”. Locals were told not to step outside or they would be treated as Kremlin agents and could be “liquidated”.
Wagner has conducted covert operations across Africa and the Middle East, including in Syria, and they have most recently been on the ground in Ukraine to guide Russian tanks to the capital.
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former commander of Joint Forces Command, said:
They are very effective because they are hard to pin down.
They can appear from the shadows, do very violent things and then disappear again, without it being obvious who was responsible. They are not directly linked to the Russian government and therefore they are plausibly deniable.
According to the Times, the army-for-hire, run by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin – a close ally of the Russian president who is often dubbed ‘Putin’s chef’ – was flown in five weeks ago and is being offered a huge sum for the mission.
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The Wagner Group plays a key role in promoting the Kremlin’s interests abroad. It has faced multiple accusations of carrying out crimes and atrocities.
The Wagner mercenaries have been deployed as guns for hire in the Middle East, Africa and even Latin America. They are used by authoritarian governments to hunt down rebels and secure key installations from attack.
The United States has imposed waves of sanctions against Wagner as well as Mr Prigozhin over alleged human rights abuses and destabilisation efforts in the developing world as well as disinformation campaigns that have targeted western nations.