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War in Ukraine. A deserter from the Wagner group testifies: “There were more and more corpses”

Confronted with the brutality he witnessed in Ukraine, a former mercenary from the Russian Wagner Group managed to escape and take refuge in Norway. In an exclusive interview with CNN, this Monday, January 30, 2023, the fighter detailed the cruelty and violence that characterizes the private militia.

Aged 26, a former mercenary from the Russian group Wagner decided to testify after escaping and taking refuge in Norway. In an exclusive interview granted this Monday, January 30, 2023 to the American channel CNN , the fighter described from Oslo the cruelty and violence which animate the leaders of the private militia, engaged alongside Russia in Ukraine .

“They brought two prisoners who refused to go to fight and they shot them in front of everyone and buried them directly in the trenches that had been dug by the trainees” , notably confided the former mercenary.

The founder of the group reacts

The fighter was serving in the Bakhmut region, Donetsk region. During this interview, he explained that he reports directly to the two founders of the Wagner Group: Dmitry Utkin and Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch whom he describes as “the devil” .

The latter immediately reacted to these statements. In an email sent Tuesday, January 31 to CNN, Yevgeny Prigozhin described the Wagner group as “an exemplary military organization that complies with all the necessary laws and rules of modern warfare” , without, however, going into detail on “military issues” . He also said in his email that the deserting mercenary “should have been prosecuted for attempting to mistreat prisoners” .

A lack of “tactical strategy”

The young man, who declined to comment on his activities in Ukraine, however specified that the Russian militia lacked “tactical strategy” . Initially, only ten fighters were under his command, he said. Then the number increased:  “There were more and more corpses, and more and more people arriving. In the end, I had many people under my command.”

It was this daily contact with death combined with the fear of being shot by his superiors that convinced the young man to desert. He reached Oslo via the Arctic border, crossing a frozen lake in white camouflage to avoid detection. This soldier had served in the Russian army before voluntarily joining the Wagner group (named after Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer). He is now seeking asylum in Norway.

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