The horrifying truth behind the Wagner Group sent to Ukraine to hunt Zelenskyy

The death squad has now been spotted in Ukraine, where Zelenskyy is said to be 'target number one' on their kill list, while his family is 'target number two'


                            The horrifying truth behind the Wagner Group sent to Ukraine to hunt Zelenskyy
Dmitry Utkin (L), leader of the Wagner Group, which is tasked with assassinating Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R) (Twitter, Stefanie Loos-Pool/Getty Images)
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A Russian paramilitary organization is receiving renewed attention for its past atrocities after a report indicated that it had deployed more than 400 mercenaries to Kyiv with the mission of assassinating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Wagner Group, a private military company backed by Kremlin, has built a reputation for its brutality. In 2019, a disturbing video surfaced showing four Russian-speaking men in military fatigues surrounding a man lying on the ground. They proceeded to break his legs with a sledgehammer, crushed his chest, and hacked off his hands, his head, before setting the corpse on fire. The victim was identified as Hamadi Bouta, a deserter from the Syrian army. He was tortured to death by the Wagner group, whose mercenaries are now said to be tasked with killing President Zelenskyy.

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The aforementioned video was filmed in 2017 in Syria and included the aftermath when the mercenaries kicked Bouti's head around like a football. The EU sanctioned the group along with three companies and seven individuals linked to it last December, citing "serious human rights abuses in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Mozambique." However, the death squad has now reportedly been spotted in Ukraine, where Zelenskyy is said to be "target number one" on their kill list, while his family is "number two".

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Meanwhile, Wagner has other 23 targets in Ukraine, including cabinet members and mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko, and his brother Wladimir. The world-famous boxing brothers are leading figures in Ukraine's fight against Russia, according to Professor Mark Galeotti, who wrote in an op-ed for the Daily Mail that he doesn't "doubt the truth of these reports."

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"Wagner is a vicious bunch of thugs who act with impunity," Galeotti explained. "They are not really a PMC but a shadowy, sinister arm of the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence service. They do Vladimir Putin’s bidding, carrying out dark deeds in which he denies involvement." He added, "As an expert in Russian security, I learned of Wagner soon after it first appeared in 2014 in the Donbas region of Ukraine, which Russia was then trying to destabilize." The professor noted how Kremlin wanted mercenaries whose actions they could disavow -- as opposed to regular troops. At the time, the group was ordered to assassinate separatist leaders who were not following Kremlin's directives despite being pro-Russian. The killings were subsequently blamed on Ukrainians.

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Wagner's founder and leader is Dmitry Utkin, a former lieutenant colonel in Russia's Spetsnaz special forces. According to Galeotti, Utkin named the group after his Spetsnaz code name. Furthermore, Richard Wagner was Adolf Hitler's favorite composer, making it an ideal nickname for Utkin who reportedly has "an appreciation of the aesthetic of the Third Reich" and has been described as a neo-nazi. Utkin was sanctioned by the EU for ordering Bouta's brutal killing.

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In 2015, Wagner was operating in Syria where Russians allegedly planned to bolster the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Putin knew that sending his troops would be unpopular with his people, and so he ordered Wagner to wipe out the Syrian rebels, according to Galeotti. "Mercenaries are illegal under Russian law so Putin denies using them – implausibly, since Wagner has the use of a Russian army special forces training camp. Putin has even awarded Utkin a medal," the professor wrote. "But his men operated to their own agenda in Syria and eventually Russia’s ministry of defense, viewing them as dangerous cowboys, refused to pay them."

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Putin eventually roped in Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch with a criminal past, to run the paramilitary outfit. According to Galeotti, the Russian strongman calls upon Prigozhin whenever he wants "something dirty done, such as running the computer ‘troll farms’ that disrupted the 2016 US election by flooding the internet with disinformation."

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