UK intelligence say Russia to flood Ukraine with more than 1,000 notorious Wagner mercenaries from Libya, Syria
The notorious Wagner Group has been a key to Russia's expansion overseas, fighting in Syria and Libya, and could be used to bolster Moscow's flagging invasion of Ukraine.
The mercenaries have been sent to eastern Ukraine with 1,000 more - including commanders - set to "undertake combat operations" in the country.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 28 March 2022— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) March 28, 2022
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/LGcaASzEkJ
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/qWJcREPqRN
It said Russia’s "stalled invasion" has forced it to redeploy personnel from the Wagner Group from Syria and Libya to Ukraine.
The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary organisation that rose to prominence by aiding separatists in the Donbas region of Ukraine in 2015.
Reports from earlier in the month suggested they could help transport troops from Libya to bolster Moscow’s war effort.
Russia's violence in Ukraine has led to western states imposing harsh sanctions on the Russian economy in an attempt to isolate Moscow and force it to pull back its army.
The Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with The Guardian on Tuesday that the sanctions amount to "total war".
Russia's devastating invasion of neighbouring Ukraine has killed thousands and displaced more than three million people so far, with Moscow repeatedly targeting civilian infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, as it has done in Syria.