Russia Ukraine War: Wagner Mercenaries Handover Charge to Russian Militia

KYIV: Russia has replaced its Wagner private military units with regular soldiers in the outskirts of Bakhmut but the group’s fighters remain inside the devastated city, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on Thursday.

Her comments appeared at least partially to confirm an announcement by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin that his group had started withdrawing its forces from Bakhmut in east Ukraine and handing over its positions to regular Russian troops.

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group said Thursday his forces had started transferring their positions in the flashpoint eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut to the Russian military. “We are withdrawing units from Bakhmut today,” Yevgeny Prigozhin, shown in full combat gear, said in a video released on social media.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military claimed to have shot down 36 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks which it said probably targeted critical infrastructure and military facilities. Serhiy Popko, head of the city’s military administration, said in a message on Telegram that Russia “again attacked Kyiv from the air” in a three hour attack launched by Kremlin.

Earlier in the day, Russia and Belarus signed a deal on Thursday to formalise the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear missiles on Belarusian territory, a step Moscow said was driven by rising tensions with the West.

In the context of an extremely sharp escalation of threats on the western borders of Russia and Belarus, a decision was made to take countermeasures in the military-nuclear sphere,” a news agency quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.

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