Former Wagner Group mercenary says Russia ill-prepared for war on Ukraine: report

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A former mercenary from the notorious Kremlin-linked Wagner Group has claimed that Russia was ill-prepared for its war in Ukraine, reports reported on Friday.

Russia failed to take kyiv despite weeks of attempts by Russian forces to attack the capital from three different directions.

Moscow has instead focused its current efforts on eastern and southern Ukraine.

RUSSIAN-LINKED WAGNER GROUP ACCUSED OF ATROCITIES IN CENTRAL AFRICA

This undated photograph released by the French military shows three Russian mercenaries, right, in northern Mali.  Russia has engaged in covert military operations in at least half a dozen African countries over the past five years using a shadowy mercenary force analysts say is loyal to President Vladimir Putin.  Analysts say the Wagner mercenary group is also key to Putin's ambitions to reimpose Russian influence globally.
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This undated photograph released by the French military shows three Russian mercenaries, right, in northern Mali. Russia has engaged in covert military operations in at least half a dozen African countries over the past five years using a shadowy mercenary force analysts say is loyal to President Vladimir Putin. Analysts say the Wagner mercenary group is also key to Putin’s ambitions to reimpose Russian influence globally.
(French Army via AP)

“They were taken completely by surprise that the Ukrainian army resisted so fiercely and they faced a real army,” Marat Gabidullin told Reuters.

The former mercenary, who now resides in France, said Moscow had underestimated the Ukrainian combat force which has been training with US and NATO troops since the Russian invasion in 2014.

“I told them, ‘Guys, this is a mistake,'” Gabidullin reportedly said after turning down a request to return to the squad and fight in Ukraine.

Gabidullin fought with the Wagner Group on behalf of Moscow during missions in Syria and a previous conflict in Ukraine – although it is unclear whether he assisted Russian forces during the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The former mercenary alleged he turned down the offer because he disagreed with the Kremlin’s stance on invading Ukraine this time around.

TOPSHOT - Ukrainian soldiers rest at their position near Lyman in eastern Ukraine on April 28, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

TOPSHOT – Ukrainian soldiers rest at their position near Lyman in eastern Ukraine on April 28, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
(YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

UKRAINE BELIEVES RUSSIA STILL PLANS TO CAPTURE kyiv

The Wagner Group is a paramilitary organization with known ties to the Kremlin, despite repeated claims from Moscow that the Russian government is not affiliated with the group.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters he did not know Gabidullin or if he had ever fought with the Wagner Group.

“We, the state, the government, the Kremlin have nothing to do with it,” he said.

Ukraine has reported that Russian troops have suffered heavy casualties and even resorted to decades-old ammunition as “dumb bombs” as it struggles to re-equip its forces.

Russia has allocated about $66 billion to its defense budget in 2021, but the amount of military aid provided by the United States and NATO allies could hurt Moscow’s military success in Ukraine.

It’s unclear how much defense aid Russia has allocated to its war in Ukraine for fiscal year 2022.

Ukrainian soldiers are seen near the recently collapsed bridge that was targeted by a Russian missile, near the town of Irpin, Ukraine, March 3, 2022.

Ukrainian soldiers are seen near the recently collapsed bridge that was targeted by a Russian missile, near the town of Irpin, Ukraine, March 3, 2022.
(Photo by Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

But according to Russia’s defense budget records before its 2014 invasion, Moscow stepped up its arms in apparent preparation – a move it does not appear to have made for its 2022 campaign.

Between 2010 and 2013, Russia increased its defense budget by almost $30 billion with a budget of over $88 billion in 2013.

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But between 2015 and 2021, there was no significant increase in its defense budget, allocating less than $66 billion in 2021.

Ukraine has warned that Russia will make another attempt for Kyiv.

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