The Ukrainian military has scrutinized and evaluated the tactics of the Wagner mercenary group. The tactics used by the mercenaries are the only ones that are effective for poorly trained recruits, it is feared.
Especially in the battles for the cities of Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, they were brutally effective: the mercenaries of the Wagner group. This is the conclusion of an analysis by the Ukrainian military from December, which is available to the US broadcaster CNN. And they worry that the Russian military might take inspiration from it.
The Wagner group has also become known because they act extremely ruthlessly. According to the analysis, the mercenaries pose a unique close-range threat. The fact that they have suffered such extraordinary losses makes them unpredictable. “The deaths of thousands of Wagner soldiers do not matter to Russian society,” the Ukrainian military officials write in the report.
One reason is that Wagner groups never withdraw without an order. “If a team retreats without permission or without being wounded, it will be punished by shooting on the spot.” A wiretapped conversation mentioned in the report also fits this observation.
A soldier talks about another soldier who tried to surrender to the Ukrainians. But the mercenaries caught him first. “The Wagnerians caught him and cut off his balls,” says the soldier in the conversation, the content of which cannot be authorized. The observation that Wagner often leaves wounded mercenaries on the battlefield for hours and is only allowed to retreat at night when attacks fail, also fits into these reports.
Despite this indifference to his own people, Wagner’s tactics are “the only ones that are effective against the poorly trained mobilized troops that make up the bulk of Russia’s ground forces,” the Ukrainian military write in their analysis, according to CNN.
This is linked to the fear that the Russian army will adapt to the procedure. “Assault formations are proposed instead of the classic tactical battalion groups of the Russian Armed Forces.”
This would involve a significant change in the Russian alliances. While they traditionally rely on larger, mechanized units, Wagner sends in mobile squads of a dozen or fewer, armed with bazookas and using real-time intelligence from drones. According to the analysis, the latter are a “key element” of the mercenary group.
According to intercepted conversations by the Ukrainian secret service, some mobilized troops are already considering switching to Wagner. A soldier responds to an intercepted call as follows. “This is heaven on earth. So if I’m going to fucking serve, I better fucking serve there.”