“Valkyrie Landing”. Yes, there was an operation: an investigation into Wagner’s PMC – news from Ukraine, Politics


Bellingcat and The Insider have published the first part of an investigation into the disruption of the Ukrainian special operation to detain Wagner PMC mercenaries. The first part of the investigation is posted on the website The Insider. Bellingcat published the full version.

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According to the investigation, Ukrainian intelligence officers, disguised as a security company under Rosneft, managed to take out of Russia dozens of key Wagner PMC militants involved in war crimes in Ukraine. The special operation was supposed to end with a forced landing of an aircraft with militants in Ukraine. But at the last moment, the scouts met with the political leadership, and the operation was “postponed.”

Initially, the idea of ​​Ukrainian intelligence officers was to lure four or five Wagnerians into Hungary under the pretext that in order to work in a new PMC, one had to undergo training in a special training camp. In Hungary, they would have been detained, extradited to Ukraine and tried.

Investigators believe that this idea had a great chance of a successful implementation. The scouts knew that the Wagnerians were often involved in the protection of valuable cargo or assets of Russian companies abroad. It was under the guise of such a company that Ukrainian intelligence officers were going to act.

By September 2019, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense had collected personal data from more than a thousand mercenaries, the vast majority of whom fought in eastern Ukraine between 2014 and 2018. Of this thousand, they were especially interested in those who were involved in any war crimes on the territory of Ukraine – these are several dozen specific individuals, the investigation says.

A group of intelligence officers was formed to recruit these mercenaries. The project was codenamed “Avenue”.

The Ukrainian special services have created a website on behalf of the discontinued PMC MAR, which previously supplied militants to the Donbass. The team also registered the domain name office-rosneft.org in order to use the domain for email correspondence with candidates.

An important participant in the project was the former middle-level officer of the GRU RF “Sergei Petrovich”, recruited by Ukrainian intelligence. He became an important team member who could provide information, warn of risks.

In order to promote the site for recruiting PMCs on Russian sites where militants had previously been recruited, a number of vaguely worded announcements of vacancies in security services were posted.

After analyzing the applications received, the former GRUshnik conducted interviews and identified two militants who fought in the Donbass. One of them is Artem Milyaev, born in 1981, who was “the deputy commander of the assault brigade in the DPR.”

On the instructions of “Sergei Petrovich” Milyaev recruits fighters with combat experience, especially snipers and experience of anti-aircraft and artillery spotters – these qualifications increased the likelihood that the selected would be related to war crimes in eastern Ukraine.

By the end of May 2020, the fake PMC received dozens of new applications with full personal data of the applicants.

After the curator approved the candidacy, he asked the fighter to send his detailed resume along with copies of any evidence of military experience. And the applicants did it. By the beginning of June 2020, GURMO had received hundreds of pages of detailed, handwritten confessions of militants about their role in illegal hostilities in Donbas, the names of commanders, videos and photographs of war crimes. Some of the names were already known to the SBU.

Many of the recruits provided insider information about both Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014–2015 and how the Russian Federation supported Wagner’s PMCs.

The news is supplemented …

Ahead of the publication of Bellingcat’s investigation, the Interim Commission of Inquiry (TIC) of the Verkhovna Rada statedthat in July 2020 the president Vladimir Zelensky did not give instructions to postpone the special operation, and the head of his office Andrey Ermak did not have such powers. TSK was unable to establish whether there was a leak of information about the special operation from Ukraine, but it does not rule out that the Russian Federation and Belarus might have known about it.

Read also: PMC Wagner. General Burba gave testimony to the People’s Deputies of the Rada, but “on the most important thing he was interrupted.”

Mark Sirovoy, Vadim Rebrina

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