Disinfo: Wagner PMC fighters are courageous selfless volunteers

Summary

The assault on the urban quarters of Soledar, occupied by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was fulfilled through the courageous and selfless actions of the volunteers from the Wagner Group strike teams.

Disproof

The claim advances a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative regarding Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, particularly the involvement of the Wagner group in the conflict.

The Wagner private military company (PMC) is a quasi-legal mercenary group which, at least formally, runs its combat operations independently of the Russian Armed Forces. However, the Wagner operations are closely integrated with the regular Russian army and its foreign policy. The equipment comes from the Russian state arsenals and the group is fully dependent on supplies via the Russian army logistics.

Wagner is as "private" as the Kremlin needs it to be in order to a escape command responsibility for the atrocities committed by the group or its murky engagement in conflicts across the world. The group can be understood as another auxiliary armed formation under the Kremlin umbrella.

The group's fighters are not "selfless volunteers" but paid employees reportedly earning between $3,000 and $10,000 monthly, depending on rank and area of deployment - substantially more than a Russian average income. A substantial part of the force is made up of convicts from Russian prisons and camps who is given the choice to fight in Ukraine or perish in prison. The casualty rate among Wagner soldiers is estimated above 70% by independent military observers. Poorly trained units are used as cannon fodder.

According to multiple investigative accounts, the company has engaged in countless human rights abuses and outright war crimes since its founding in 2014. See here for comprehensive debunking by POLYGRAPH.info.

Previous cases on Wagner in EUvsDisinfo can be seen here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 326
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 13/01/2023
  • Article language(s) English
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia, Ukraine
  • Keywords: mercenaries, Foreign mercenaries, Invasion of Ukraine, Donbas, War in Ukraine, Eastern Ukraine
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This disinformation claim was broadcast on the date mentioned above. Due to the EU decisions  to temporarily restrict the spread and dissemination of RT, Sputnik and other instruments used to manipulate information and promote disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine inside the EU, access to the link may not work inside the EU.
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Disinfo: The West is using Ukrainians to fight against Russia

The money Western countries spent on the military needs of Kyiv speak of a desire to confront Russia, if not to the "last Ukrainian," then to a number of victims comparable to that in Iraq.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that Western countries are fighting a proxy-war against Russia in Ukraine. This narrative aims to frame Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine as a confrontation with a Russophobic and belligerent NATO.

Contrary to what this disinformation story claims, the Ukrainian state is under attack by Russia, while the US and Western countries are providing support to Ukraine. Western nations did everything they could to prevent the war and have only been reacting to Russia’s full invasion. Some NATO member states provide Ukraine with military assistance to help Ukraine to defend itself from Russia’s attack, but they are not involved in direct fighting.

Disinfo: Schismatics seized the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and expelled the canonical church

[Ukrainian] schismatics seized the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, the main shrine of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The “self-consecrated” schismatics held a “service” in the main temples of the Lavra, and this action was carried out by self-proclaimed structures formed exclusively non-canonically. Therefore, this action has no holiness.

Disproof

This is a part of a pro-Kremlin conspiracy theory aimed at portraying Ukraine as a "Satanist" country that bans the Orthodox Church, in line with the recurring disinformation narrative that Ukraine is "Nazi".

The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was not seized by Ukraine or the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. In fact, it is state property. It is managed by the National Kyiv-Pechersk History and Culture Preserve. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church had only been renting it until 31 December, 2022, when its rental contract expired and a part of the premises was returned to the direct management of the state.

Disinfo: The Nazi Kyiv regime creates “Hitler-Jugend” and conscripts women en masse

Neo-Nazi organisations are preparing child soldiers for the Ukrainian armed forces. Zelenskyy had to urgently create his own “Hitler-Jugend” from teenagers between 14 and 16 years old.

With each new stage of mobilisation the Ukrainian armed forces receive less trained soldiers, increasingly incapable of successfully fighting and dying for US interests and the Nazi Kyiv regime. Ukrainian women are now conscripted en masse into the army. In the Kharkiv area, foreign languages are heard more often in radio interceptions – “volunteers” from Poland dominate.

Influential western media now have to recognize Russian successes and acknowledge the imminent loss of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Nazi Ukraine, often presented as justification for the full-scale Russian military aggression against Ukraine, which started on 24 February 2022. This is part of a disinformation campaign aiming to deflect attention away from Russian actions and justify Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. The article also uses a pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Russia’s military successes and inevitable loss of Ukraine in the ongoing war, aiming to prove that its “special military operation” is actually going to plan.

The claim about high numbers of Polish fighters in Ukraine aims to obfuscate the reality of Russia's unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Pro-Kremlin media has made similar claims in the past, in attempts to substantiate a disinformation narrative that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine. They reported, among other things, that over 1,200 Polish mercenaries died in Ukraine.