Wagner’s insensitive prison fighters keep staggering to Bakmut as if this were a zombie apocalypse

Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Bakhmut, Ukraine — A smoke-filled basement in an unremarkable building in the heart of Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine, Bakhmut, the men of the SKALA intelligence battalion are preparing for a dangerous reconnaissance mission. One of them is lighting his last cigarette in a dim hallway. A bearded soldier in a bulletproof vest and helmet has yellow tape wrapped around his arms. Ukrainian Soldiers to identify each other on the battlefield. “Be careful. There are snipers in this area,” says a handsome officer as he rises from his office chair to a flat screen TV as drones fly over the city carnage live I am broadcasting my feed intermittently. “I can’t die. Mother won’t let me,” the soldier quipped with a weary smile.

As the door to the street opens, the formerly muffled sound of artillery fire becomes sharp and loud. they take off

“The situation is quite tense, but we are in control,” said 23-year-old Alexander, clutching his American-made M4 assault rifle. “We hold.With his buzz cut and boyish looks, the young man didn’t look out of place in a trendy nightclub in downtown Kyiv. It survived the storms of Russian attacks and artillery fire on Bahmut, hid in a basement, and fired daily. gray zone— The expanse of land between the positions of Ukraine and Russia. His SKALA battalion, named after its founder and leader, his Iurii Skala, is tasked with air and ground reconnaissance, and conducting “sweep operations”.

“Drones are our eyes,” says Alexander. Bahmut, a salt-mining town of 70,000 inhabitants known for its sparkling white wine, was destroyed by months of relentless Russian artillery bombardment and horrific trench warfare that has been compared to the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele. Devastated. The town is a major transportation hub and is located on a strategic highway through the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. But some, including him, one of Ukraine’s top generals, argue that the town’s strategic value is questionable at best. But in one of the few frontline areas where Russian forces are still advancing, the success-hungry Russian high command is desperate for victory. Bakhmut’s capture Evgeny PrigogineFounder of the infamous Wagner Paramilitary Group, whose mercenaries make up most of the Russian army in the region. T.US believes Prigogine has financial motives: Wagner often seized profitable gold and diamond mines in the areas where he operated in Africa, and Prigogine may have set his sights on the salt and gypsum mines around Bahmut.

This is how the US completely misunderstood the war in Ukraine

Most of the soldiers sent in suicide attacks on Ukrainian positions in Bakhmut were recruited by Wagner to boost their numbers, according to Lem, a former car dealer from Dnipro who uses drones to correct artillery fire. “Zek” or prisoner. Russian army in Ukraine. “Movic [conscripts] It is usually frightened and scatters when it receives artillery fire. Those guys are not scary,” he said.

Among the Wagnerites, Rem says they are a far more effective fighting force than is usually credited: “After all, they’re making progress.” Prisoners of nothing, many of whom are violent criminals, including murderers and rapists, are seen by Ukrainian soldiers as a more formidable foe than the average military conscript.

<p>Ukrainian military personnel stand outside a Bakhmut outpost during an unmanned reconnaissance operation on December 1, 2022.</p>
<div class="インライン画像__クレジット">Justin Yau</div>
<p>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SDfyZHWqAkOnyWVcHFVd7Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/thedailybeast.com/e995ead55a12729195d346acb26″2 /><noscript><img alt=

Ukrainian military personnel stand outside a Bakhmut outpost during an unmanned reconnaissance operation on December 1, 2022.

Justin Yau

” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SDfyZHWqAkOnyWVcHFVd7Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/thedailybeast.com/e995ead55a12729195d346b2e” class=ac26e273 “caas-img”/>

Ukrainian military personnel stand outside the Bakhmut outpost during a drone reconnaissance operation on December 1, 2022.

Justin Yau

The Russian tactic of sending prison recruits to attack Ukrainian positions, albeit slow and deadly, has proven effective. Although no major breakthroughs have been made, they are slowly eroding the Ukrainian defenses and creeping up on the eastern outskirts of the city.

The assessment was repeated in late December by Oleksandr Danylyuk, Ukraine’s former national security adviser who is currently working on the military plan. said about prison conscription: “They are not fearless, but they have little to lose. That’s why they attack incessantly and are being killed in large numbers.”

However, these incremental gains in the eastern approaches to the city came at a price for the Russian army. Prigogine’s well-known visit to the New Year’s frontIn a series of videos published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Wagner’s boss first visited a cellar filled with the bodies of his combatants, including many prisoners killed in the Battle of Bakhmut, and said, “All house of [in Bakhmut] It can take a week of fighting to rob a single house.

According to US officials quoted by Guardian On Thursday, out of an initial force of about 50,000 mercenaries, Wagner maintained more than 4,100 killed and more than 10,000 wounded, including those killed near Bahmut between late November and early December. Includes more than 1,000 people who have been

How Putin disappeared 46 infants in one fell swoop

Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the city in late December emphasized the symbolic value of the “Fortress Bakhmut” and the sacrifices made to protect it. A Ukrainian officer serving in the east, who requested anonymity, estimated dozens of casualties per day.

Outside SKALA’s command center, there is little traffic except for a few civilians rushing by carrying bags of groceries and pulling carts full of empty plastic bottles. The thunder of artillery fire echoes through deserted streets and deserted public squares, and bounces off destroyed residential buildings and shuttered shop facades. Here and there you’ll find rockets from GRAD’s multi-rocket launcher set upright on the asphalt.

A few blocks from SKALA’s headquarters, Hrihorii, in his 60s, is busy chopping firewood in his parking lot. A man in warm winter clothes and black plastic boots says he is not going to leave his apartment, even though his windows were shattered the day before our visit. I’m waiting for you,” he says with a smile. “I will not leave.” Next to him, food is simmering in a pot over an open fire. The crater from last morning’s shelling is just a few feet away from his improvised kitchen. Had he been cooking when he landed, Friholi would have died.

Back at headquarters, a group of a dozen soldiers are returning from a mission in the “grey zone”. The soldiers, drenched in sweat and pumping adrenaline, hurried through the door cursing loudly. Roman, a soldier from Dnipro, lights a cigarette and introduces the other members of the crew in broken English. Bansi is a ‘Bahmut’ who was a heavyweight soldier who served in Donbass in 2015 and now serves in the charred ruins. his hometown after sending the rest of his family to safety in Bulgaria. “It’s the first time he’s run like this in 20 years,” Romain gasps. According to him, his 50-year-old Russian T-62 tank was operating in the area. “We couldn’t see them, but we could hear them,” he says. The use of such outdated models points to a growing shortage of equipment and vehicles in the Russian army, a problem exacerbated by sanctions targeting the country’s military industry. Still, Ukrainian soldiers say the Russians should not be underestimated.

<p>Roman (left) and “Bahmut” (right) are among the Ukrainian fighters thwarting Russian efforts to take Bakhmut.</p>
<div class="インライン画像__クレジット">Justin Yau</div>
<p>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SUsOlT.xqadmg1tunxSxkA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/thedailybeast.com/ b825f2b0314e83aee2b740911b64a60e”/><noscript><img alt=

Roman (left) and “Bahmut” (right) are among the Ukrainian fighters thwarting Russian efforts to take Bakhmut.

Justin Yau

” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SUsOlT.xqadmg1tunxSxkA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/thedailybeast.com/b825f2b0314e83aee2b740911b64a6″ class=”caas-img”/>

Roman (left) and “Bakhmut” (right) are among the Ukrainian fighters who foil Russian efforts to take Bakhmut.

Justin Yau

See The Daily Beast for more information.

Get the Daily Beast’s biggest scoops and scandals delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and get unlimited access to the Daily Beast’s unparalleled reports. Subscribe now.