Russia: Convicts reportedly pardoned by Wagner group
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Mamuka Mamulashvili has played a prominent role in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the demise of Russia’s notorious Wagner group. He is known for his leadership of the Georgian Legion, a volunteer unit who have fought on numerous times against Vladimir Putin’s forces, including Russian hired guns and former convicts that make up the once-feared group of mercenaries.
Mamulashvili told Express.co.uk: “At the beginning of the war Wagner was more professional but most of them were destroyed.
“At this time, the terroristic company has only prisoners as mercenaries, who are not professionals.
“They have no combat experience, actually no experience of holding a weapon at all.”
Mamulashvili boasted of recent battlefield victories over Wagner, he told Express.co.uk: “Recently the Georgian Legion liquidated a Wagner unit of sixteen men. Those guys were in an intelligence unit, the most recent was an eleven-man group that was killed by the Georgian Legion. They were also Wagner Group who were also intelligence and planning an attack on a Ukrainian position.”
It has been reported that Wagner, a Russian private military company, has been recruiting former prisoners to fight in Ukraine.
According to the Washington Post, the United States estimates that Wagner has a total of 50,000 troops in Ukraine, with 40,000 of them being convicts recruited from prisons.
Other sources also indicate this recruitment of convicts, for instance, one Russian magazine has reported that Wagner is recruiting convicts from inside St. Petersburg prisons, promising them 200,000 rubles (£2,400) for six months and freedom if they survive the conflict.
Moreover, Wagner has also tried to recruit inmates from prisons in the Central African Republic.
Ukraine: Footage appears to show strike on Russian unit
After Mamulashvili finished his service in the Georgian Armed Forces during the 2008 war with Russia, he decided to move to Ukraine.
There, he became involved in the Euromaidan revolution, which was a series of protests that led to the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Following the revolution, he established the Georgian Legion, a volunteer unit composed of Georgian citizens that fought against Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
He quickly gained a reputation as a capable and charismatic leader, and his unit was involved in some of the fiercest fighting during the war.
On Friday, Russia announced that its military forces had captured the contested town of Soledar, which is known for its salt mines. This would be a rare victory for Russia after experiencing several setbacks in its ongoing war with Ukraine.
However, Ukrainian authorities have stated that the fight for the town is still ongoing. Russia has portrayed the battles for Soledar and nearby Bakhmut as crucial in capturing the entire eastern region of Donbas, and also as a way to weaken Ukrainian forces and prevent them from launching counterattacks elsewhere.
But Ukraine has argued that their fierce defense of these eastern towns has helped to bog down Russian forces. Western officials and analysts have stated that the towns’ significance, after months of intense fighting, is more symbolic than strategic.
Since invading Ukraine on February 24, Russia has been focused on gaining full control of Donbas, which is made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces and has been the site of a separatist insurgency backed by Russia since 2014. While Russia has captured most of Luhansk, around half of Donetsk remains under Ukrainian control.
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