A Ukrainian missile attack on a hotel in the east of the country killed members of the Wagner Corporationa Russian paramilitary force whose leader has close ties to President Vladimir V. Putin, Ukrainian regional military authorities said.
The head of the Ukrainian regional government in exile in Luhansk province, Serhiy Haidai, said in a post on the messaging app Telegram that “many” members of Wagner’s forces were killed in Sunday’s attack in the city of Kadiivka. He posted a grainy photo, taken at night, of a courtyard surrounded on three sides by a two-story building, which appeared to have been destroyed by an explosion. There is a hole in the middle of the yard.
Mr Haidai’s statement could not be independently verified and there was no immediate comment or confirmation from the Wagner Group. Telegram channels affiliated with the Wagner Group were all quiet, with no real mention of the strike.
Russian state news agency Tass reported in a Telegram post that a HIMARS missile destroyed a hotel near the central market but made no mention of the Wagner Group. Using the old Soviet name for the city, Stakhanov, in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, reported citing the mayor’s office and saying that rescuers were clearing the rubble. , It did not provide details of casualties or indicate who was in the hotel.
There is no independent confirmation that Wagner forces are inside the hotel, but such an attack would fit the pattern of Ukrainian forces’ attacks on critical points of military infrastructure or gathering places. troops in the territory occupied by Russian forces.
Over the weekend, Ukraine attacked church in the occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine that the Russian military is using as a base.
In recent months, Ukraine has used longer-range weapons, such as HIMARS, a US-supplied system capable of pinpointing targets behind Russian lines. Those attacks were part of a Ukrainian campaign that began in August and culminated in the recapture of the city of Kherson on the west bank of the Dnipro River. Recent attacks suggest that Ukraine may be following a similar approach in the hope of advancing into Russian positions east of the river.
Ukrainian forces will “continue to attack” local command posts and logistics points of Russia over the next few weeks “to facilitate the decisive phase of the operation,” said retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges. said on CNN Monday.
Wagner Corporation, led by businessman Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, played a central role in Russia’s effort to attack the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, which borders Luhansk. The fighting lasted for months in the context of heavy losses on both sidesIt was one of the most atrocious acts since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
Military experts say capturing Bakhmut will have limited strategic value to Moscow but it will serve political purposes as Russia last captured an important Ukrainian city in the summer and Since September, Russia has suffered a series of casualties on the battlefield in the northeast. and the south of the country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has said Kiev’s goal is to regain all of the territory occupied by Russia since 2014. Its campaign in the south and east has been slowed in recent weeks by winter. start, although that doesn’t change the tempo for longer than the attack range.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that the ground attack speed can increase rapidly when the ground is frozen.
He told journalists in the city of Odesa on Sunday: “We have seen rains and very difficult conditions for attacks from any side because of the wet ground and vehicles. there is bread that is difficult to pass through”. He added that “when the ground becomes firmer, I am confident that we will continue our counterattacks.”