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SBU identifies 26 Russian officers training Wagner mercenaries

Russian Lt-Col Oleg Demyanenko is in charge of training the company tactical group Karpaty (Carpathians).

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has identified 26 Russian officers who have been assigned combat training instructors at the Wagner private military company, SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak has said at a briefing.

The career Russian servicemen taught "Putin's private army" tactical, fire, engineering and artillery skills. It also trained tank, infantry fighting vehicle, APC and air defence crews.

"We have identified Russian army Lt-Col Oleg Demyanenko who is directly responsible for the training of the so-called company tactical group Karpaty made predominantly out of Ukrainian nationals who were involved in criminal groups in Donbas," he said.

He explained that the group was formed to carry out sabotage and subversion acts in Ukraine.

The entire group consisting of 56 members has been identified and will soon be publicly exposed, Hrytsak said.

According to him, the Wagner command and the mentioned instructors were invited to take part in the 9 May parade in Moscow.

"I'm confident this is an effort to boost the mercenaries' morale after numerous losses which they suffered in Syria early this year," he said.

The first to report about the Wagner PMC in March 2016 was the St Petersburg news agency Fontanka. It identified its chief as a former special troops commander of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate, Dmitriy Utkin, aka Wagner. According to the Conflict Intelligence Team, Wagner mercenaries are involved in Syria hostilities. Officially, the group is not there.

Wagner members are also involved in the Donbas conflict. The SBU learnt that Wagner was involved in the downing of the Ukrainian Il-76 plane in Donbas and the Debaltseve battle.

Around 40 Ukrainians were proved to be involved with the PMC.

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