Horror scene in ‘new Mariupol’ as ruthless Wagner mercenaries join Russian siege
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Ukrainian troops are facing a new fight to the death, as the feared Russian Wagner mercenaries are now circling the embattled Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk.
The Eastern city has become the new focus of Russian President Vladimir Putin's troops.
The area is now being dubbed the “new Mariupol”, after Putin's forces levelled that city early on into the invasion.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said: “They are systematically destroying the city.
“Everywhere is being shelled constantly.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky raged: “The invaders are waging a very cruel war against us.
“There has not been such a war on the European continent for 77 years — total war, where the enemy tries to destroy as many people and infrastructure as possible. What country has withstood such a scale of attacks?”
It is not known exactly what role the feared Wagner group is playing in the area, but their actions first came to light when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
It is thought that Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU funds the group, but that has never been confirmed.
Tracey German, professor of conflict and security at King's College London told the BBC during an investigation into the group: “Its mercenaries are thought to be some of the 'little green men' who occupied the region.
“About 1,000 of its mercenaries then supported the pro-Russian militias fighting for control of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
“Running a mercenary army is against the Russian constitution.
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“However, Wagner provides the government with a force which is deniable.
“Wagner can get involved abroad and the Kremlin can say: 'It has nothing to do with us'."
The group has also been involved – on behalf of Russia – in Syria, and in Libya since 2016.
The United Nations and France both accused the group of “committing rapes and robberies” against locals in the Central African Republic.
Russian leaders constantly deny involvement with the group, which is why they've been nicknamed “ghost soldiers”.
- Russia Ukraine war
- Vladimir Putin
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