Ukrainian forces strike Russian munitions dump with drone
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Russia has been heavily reliant on the Wagner Group’s guns for hire to bolster the Kremlin’s military manpower, with the mercenary force sending fighters to grind out gains against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas. The brutal private military contractors run by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin are now actively targetting western humanitarian volunteers who travel to the conflict zone to support Ukrainians.
A retired United States Marine Corps Colonel Andrew Milburn currently in Donbas as a volunteer told Newsweek he is struggling to find accommodation, with hotels refusing him out of fear he is being “targeted”.
Colonel Milburn traveled to Ukraine with a group known as Mozart who some argue operates as a PMC but the former marine rejects that label.
He said: “There’s no hotel in Donbas now that will let us stay because they’ve been told we’re being targeted.
“We have had three hotels that we stayed in hit by missiles, which could have been random. They could definitely be targeting us, which seems like a lot of resources to focus on a group that’s doing mostly humanitarian work.”
He added: “None of these threats or all the b******t flying around on Telegram are going to affect our operations at all.”
The Mozart group has been running training courses for Ukrainian soldiers.
Colonel Milburn explained: “We have a higher emotional intelligence, we recruit a different sort of person.
“We’re not armed, we don’t fight. We have nothing in common with other PMCs.
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“We’re the only ones that are regularly posting pictures and footage and reports of what is going on, which is an absolute annihilation of Ukrainian frontline towns to an extent that I have not seen in the media.”
Meanwhile, Wagner fighters are reported to be burning through ammunition at the rate of thousands of rounds per day amid a desperate attempt to hold off advancing Ukrainian forces.
Analysts from the US-based military think tank the Institute for the Study of War have noted that the PMC’s mercenaries are putting up a desperate resistance south of the city of Bakhmut as the Ukrainian Army looks to counter-attack and retake lost positions along the frontline.
ISW cites a “Russian military blogger” who reported that Wagner Group forces in the Bakhmut area have been using 2,000 rounds per day per fighter.
The report said: “Russian sources widely claimed that Wagner Group fighters took control of Yakovlivka and that fierce fighting is ongoing near Bakhmut in Opytne, Klishchiivka, and Soledar.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian troops unsuccessfully attempted to regain certain lost positions south of Bakhmut.
“Russian sources largely discussed the intensity of operations in this area and emphasized high Ukrainian losses.”
The report continues: “Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut on December 7.”
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