The assessment was made by Andriy Yusov, an official with the Ukrainian military intelligence agency HUR, Polish state news agency PAP reported on Wednesday.
'Wagner Group is now used as cannon fodder’: Ukraine intelligence
In an interview with state Ukrainian TV, Iusov said: “The Wagner Group was conceived as an ‘elite unit,’ but nothing of this elite status remains now and the myth of the Wagner Group is gone,” PAP wrote, citing Ukraine’s Ukrinform news agency.
“We see that it is being used as ‘cannon fodder’,” the official stated, adding that “although the Wagner Group is usually described as ‘a private military company,’ in fact it is a tool of the Kremlin, doing jobs for the Putin regime,” PAP reported.
Iusov said that “Russia’s ‘cannon fodder’ is made up of convicts, who are forcibly drafted into the army despite suffering from various diseases, such as HIV or Hepatitis C,” as cited by the PAP news agency.
Wagner Group owner personally recruits ill convicts
This is in line with earlier reports by the Ukrainian intelligence that ill convicts were being conscripted into the Wagner Group, with the company’s financier Yevgeny Prigozhin visiting prisons personally to recruit them, according to Russia’s independent media outlets, PAP reported.
Meanwhile, the Institute for the Study of War wrote in its latest report that the Wagner Group was beset by “the same supply and troop quality issues that Prigozhin criticises the Russian Ministry of Defence for allowing to occur within the Russian Armed Forces.”
In its analysis, published on Wednesday night, the Washington-based think tank noted that “Prigozhin, for instance, denied seeing a video in which Wagner troops complained about the lack of food and supplies.”
Wagner Group’s forces are currently stationed in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, where they have been taking part in efforts to take control of the city of Bakhmut since the summer, the PAP news agency reported.
In Kherson region, we are retaking settlements ‘step by step’: Ukraine’s defence minister
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that his country’s counteroffensive to retake the southern Kherson province has lost some of its speed, due to rainy weather and the Russian forces’ tactic of using irrigation canals as trenches, according to PAP.
In an interview with the US broadcaster Fox News, Reznikov said: “In the south, we continue our counteroffensive campaign. Right now, with some kind of weather conditions, I mean rain, it makes us go a little bit slowly.”
He added that Ukrainian troops continued to liberate settlements from Russian occupation, on a “step by step” basis.
Ukraine’s defence minister also discussed the slowing down of the Kherson counteroffensive in an interview with the Japanese TV outlet NHK, noting that one of the reasons was the Russian tactic of “using irrigation canals as trenches,” the PAP news agency reported.
‘We have a real plan to liberate all occupied territories’: Ukraine’s Reznikov
Reznikov said that Ukrainian forces were now in the “third stage” of the war; the first was to stop the Russian advance, the second was to stabilise the frontline, and the third encompasses the counteroffensive campaigns in the northeastern Kharkiv region and the southern Kherson province.
He told NHK that Ukrainian troops would “move forward by winter, “when the Russian troops' mobility will decline,” as cited by PAP.
“We have a real plan to liberate Kherson, like we have a real plan to liberate all the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine,” the defence minister declared, as reported by the PAP news agency.
Wednesday is day 245 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: PAP, understandingwar.org, foxnews.com, nhk.or.jp