September 29, 2023

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The United States says Wagner’s forces are no longer relevant in Ukraine

The United States says Wagner’s forces are no longer relevant in Ukraine
  • Written by Laura Josie and Philan Chatterjee
  • BBC News

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After their revolt failed, the Wagner fighters were told they could join the regular Russian forces or go to Belarus.

A Pentagon spokesman said the Wagner mercenary group was no longer “involved in any significant capacity in support of combat operations in Ukraine”.

It comes after weeks of the group’s 24-hour insurgency in Russia – a challenge to the authority of President Vladimir Putin.

Wagner is believed to have helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014, and has fought some of the bloodiest battles of recent times.

It was instrumental in capturing the eastern Russian city of Bakhmut.

Under the agreement that ended the June Rebellion, the Wagner fighters were told they could join the regular Russian army or head to Belarus with their commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

But the Kremlin said earlier this week that Putin had met Prigozhin in Moscow just days after the mutiny.

Putin insists he made his offer to the fighters clear during that meeting.

Speaking to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper on Thursday, he said they could have chosen to “continue their service” in the regular Russian army.

He continued, in an apparent reference to himself, “they could have been led by the person who had been their real leader all that time.”

He also stressed the lack of a legal framework for private military organizations. He said bluntly: “Wagner does not exist.”

“God only knows what he’s likely to do. We’re not even sure where he is and what his relationship is [with Mr Putin]. If I were him, I’d be careful what I ate. “I will keep my eyes on my list,” said Mr. Biden.

Speaking after a summit with Nordic leaders in Helsinki, Biden also said there was no possibility Putin would win the war in Ukraine.

“He actually lost that war,” he said.

Biden said the Russian president “will ultimately decide that it is not in Russia’s interest, economically, politically or otherwise, to continue this war. But I can’t predict exactly how that will happen.”

He also expressed “hope and expectation” that Ukraine would make enough progress in its current counter-offensive for a negotiated peace settlement.

Others believe that Russia’s defenses will eventually be shattered, allowing Ukraine to seize strategically important territory and advance toward Russian-occupied Crimea.

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Watch: The Day Wagner’s Boss Became a Crook… in 96 Seconds

Ukraine has long asked Western allies for more military assistance to aid its resistance against Russian invasion.

Although it did not get a solid time frame for NATO membership at the recent summit in Lithuania, it did receive from G7 members a long term security framework to help protect against Russian aggression.

He stressed that they will make a difference to Ukraine’s fortunes on the front line. “We just got it, we haven’t used it yet, but it can change drastically [the battlefield],” Mr. Tarnavskyi said.