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Scoop of the day: Bellingcat releases Wagner sting probe findings

Scoop of the day: Bellingcat releases Wagner sting probe findings

Bellingcat

A year-long investigation by Bellingcat and the Insider has established that the operation which resulted in the capture of 33 mercenaries in Minsk in July 2020 was in fact an elaborate sting conducted by Ukraine's military intelligence service GUR MOU with the support of the counterintelligence department of the domestic intelligence agency, the SBU. Through the false-flag recruitment of mercenaries for a now defunct private military contractor (PMC), the operation aimed to lure dozens of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens who, in the assessment of the Ukrainian authorities, had committed serious crimes while fighting for Russia-supported military entities in the country’s East.

Many, but not all of the targeted mercenaries, had fought in Ukraine’s Donbas region as part of the infamous Wagner private military contractor (PMC).

According to Vasyl Burba of GUR MOU, the operation to detain the mercenaries was postponed on the initiative of presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak to let the just-agreed ceasefire in Donbas to commence as planned.

During the forced delay, the mercenaries were arrested by the Belarusian KGB.

Belarusian border, energy

During a telephone conversation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has discussed with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen the possibility of attracting EU assistance for the engineering equipment of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.

The two leaders also discussed energy issues.

"The Ukrainian president stressed that our state is ready to reduce the cost of gas transit through its territory and to provide its own underground storage facilities for keeping the strategic fuel reserve," the presidential office said.

Zelenskyy reiterated that the Nord Stream 2 project posed a security threat to the entire Europe and made a number of proposals aimed at preventing an energy crisis in EuropeThey also discussed the idea of creating a regional platform to strengthen energy security.

Troops sent westwards

National Guard rapid reaction units have left for the western border, the press service of the National Guard Rapid Response Brigade has said.

"Our units went westwards to protect the borders of our state. The situation is controllable at this moment, we are working together with border guards and will do everything to ensure that the Ukrainian borders remain intact," it noted.

Belarusian electricity

Belarus will halt the recently resumed supplies of electricity to Ukraine as of 18 November. The Belarusian Energy Ministry said that electricity supplies to Ukraine would be terminated "in accordance with the established procedure for interaction within the framework of contractual relations".

The notice said that "the possibility of further supplies of electricity to Ukraine will be considered by the Belarusian side taking into account technical capabilities". The notice did not specify the reasons for the termination of supplies.

Donbas

Three Ukrainian servicemen were wounded in Donbas amid nine ceasefire violations by Russia-backed militants, the Joint Forces Operation HQ has said. On seven occasions the separatists used heavy weapons banned by the Minsk agreements.

For the second time in a week, the separatists shelled the town of Nevelske, Pokrovsk District of Donetsk Region, having damaged seven more houses.

Maydan shooting probe

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin 11 times over the phone on 18-20 February 2014, the time of the mass shootings of protesters in Kyiv's Independence Square (Maydan), Deputy Prosecutor-General Denys Ivanov said at a briefing.

Then Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko had 12 contacts with Russian Interior Minister Kolokoltsev, the heads of security services of Ukraine and Russia also spoke by phone.

Ivanov shared details of the investigation against Yanukovych and the then nine top officials. Over the eight years of the investigation, law enforcers have found out that on 18 February afternoon, the authorities had set the task of preventing protesters from entering the government quarter. For this, law enforcers used special means and equipment as well as firearms without an official order.

On the afternoon of 18 February and early on 19 February, they stormed Maydan under the guise of an "anti-terrorist operation". According to investigators, ammunition imported from Russia was used during this "mission".

Thirteen people were killed, 47 people were seriously injured, and over 200 more were moderately or slightly injured. The Trade Union House was set on fire.

Drill

A battalion tactical exercise involving live fire and aviation was held at one of the training ranges near the administrative border with occupied Crimea.

According to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry's press service, a battalion of marines reinforced with a tank company and a unit of army aviation helicopters took part in the exercise.

"According to the legend of the exercise, the forward unit, supported by army aviation, repulsed a squad of marines of the conditional enemy trying to break through the defences. In addition, the marines, supported by tanks and artillery, made it impossible for the main enemy forces to advance deep into the defence," the report said.

Kyiv to suspend transport fare rise

Kyiv will not increase public transport fares until the end of the heating season, according to mayor Vitaliy Klitschko. The city's plans to increase the fare from UAH 8 to UAH 20 has caused much public uproar.

Vaccination

An anonymous vaccination station has opened in Uzhhorod where those who have been registered as inoculated but were not could get vaccinated, according to Suspilne.

Reshuffle

The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the dismissal of Anatoliy Poloskov as head of the Transcarpathian regional state administration, the government's representative in parliament, Taras Melnychuk, has said.

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