A former Wagner mercenary in the service of Russia has described the failure of the Russian army in the planned capture of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as inevitable. “They were totally surprised by the determined resistance of the Ukrainian army and by facing a real army,” Marat Gabidullin told Reuters.

In addition, the Russian military has not fought directly against a strong enemy in recent years. In Syria, for example, the Russian army attacked primarily from the air, but relied on mercenaries for direct combat on the ground.

When attacking Ukraine, the Russian side expected a motley force of fighters, but by no means a well-trained army, Gabidullin said, citing Russian sources. “Guys, that’s a mistake,” he replied.

Gabidullin reportedly fought as a mercenary on behalf of Russia in Syria and in a previous conflict in Ukraine. In 2019 he left the Wagner group and is now publishing a book about his experiences in “Putin’s private army”. The former mercenary assures that he was not involved in any war crimes that the Wagner Group is accused of.

A few months before the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine on February 24, Gabidullin said he received a call from a recruiter who wanted to persuade him to return to Ukraine, according to the Reuters report. He also refused because he was convinced that the Russian troops were not up to the task, the 55-year-old continued.

The Wagner mercenaries first appeared in 2014 when Russia tried to use them to conquer the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. According to the Russian constitution, the use of private military companies is illegal. Therefore, the Kremlin denies any connection to the Wagner group.



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