- - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

It seems when Russian President Vladimir Putin said there were no Russian troops in East Ukraine, fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists, he may have technically been telling the truth. A Russian newspaper reported recently that the Kremlin used mercenaries to fight in Donbass and also in Syria. The report also says the group’s casualties were concealed and medals awarded in secret, many times posthumously.

The Guardian reports, “An investigation published by Fontanka, an independent Russian newspaper, found that the Kremlin had hired members of a private military company called Wagner to go to Syria and Ukraine. The use of contractors gives Mr. Putin a deniable way of sending trained personnel to both countries. Wagner is believed to have a membership of around 1,000 mercenaries, but officially the group does not exist since Russian law forbids private military companies. But Wagner is registered in Argentina and has a training camp in the Russian village of Molkino — the same village that hosts a training site of the 10th special forces brigade of the GRU military intelligence.”

It has been patently obvious that some type of Russian-backed force was operating in the Donbass region east of Kyiv. Some Russian soldiers have been captured and massive amounts of Russian armaments have been brought across the border. Scores of long truck convoys have routinely brought “relief supplies” into Donetsk from the Russian side.

Many analysts have concluded that the conflict in East Ukraine would subside as the Russian expedition in Syria ramped up. This definitely turned out to be the case; however, fighting in Donbass is heating up again as Russia slowly withdraws forces in the Middle East. The war in East Ukraine smolders on.

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