UKRAINE’S special forces reportedly captured Russia’s Wagner mercenaries fighting in Sudan after Kyiv vowed to hunt them down “wherever they are”.
Footage from an interrogation suggests the Kremlin’s shadowy thug army is working to stir up further chaos inside the war-torn state.
The video, shared by Ukraine’s military intelligence with the Kyiv Post, showed a captured Russian prisoner being interrogated alongside two African men.
A masked Ukrainian interrogator asked which unit they belonged to and the Russian captive responded: “PMC Wagner”.
Two of Wagner’s distinctive badges are then shown to the camera next to the three men – all dressed in military khakis, bound and blindfolded.
Questioned on how they got to Sudan, the man said they drove from the Central African Republic (CAR) – where Waqner has a significant presence – into the capital of Khartoum.
The mercenary explained that with a force of about 100 their mission was “to overthrow the local government”.
The two African prisoners, possibly recruited by the Wagner Group, said they were paid $1000 (£800) to be part of it.
The location and the content of the video have not been independently verified.
Sources inside Ukraine’s military intelligence (HUR) said: “The work on the destruction of Russian mercenaries and their local terrorist partners in Sudan is likely by Ukrainian special force.”
“Work we have planned [in Sudan] is being performed,” they told the Kyiv Post.
Ukrainian sources told CNN in September that Ukraine was “likely responsible” for a series of drone strikes and ground operations near Khartoum.
In recent months, widely circulating videos showed what appear to be Ukrainian drones targeting Russian mercenaries and Wagner-backed militias.
Sources revealed the operation involved attacks on the paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – who are battling against Sudan’s military for control and are believed to be receiving support from Wagner.
Ukraine is unlikely to officially confirm the deployment of its troops in foreign countries.
However, last May, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, vowed to “destroy Russian war criminals anywhere in the world, wherever they are”.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky also met Sudan’s army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, back in September and said they discussed our “common security challenges, namely the activities of illegal armed groups financed by Russia”.
More footage from the recently-released HUR video showed weapons and military khakis strewn across a dusty desert floor, suggesting a sizeable force had been there.
In another part of the clip, Ukrainian special ops from the combat group Timur (part of Ukraine’s defence intelligence wing), examine military vehicles.
One shows a truck with severe signs of damage and the body of a soldier in the passenger seat.
The Ukrainian fighters appear to remove a Wagner card from the soldier – but the video is murky.
The conflict in Sudan
A CIVIL war has been engulfing Sudan since last Spring.
On April 15, 2023, an armed conflict broke out between the Sudanese military and the main paramilitary force in Sudan, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The fighting has been largely concentrated in the capital of Khartoum, but also spread to the war-weary Darfur region.
It immediately sparked worldwide panic as countries rushed to evacuate their citizens from the fast-spreading violence.
The civil war – which has now killed thousands and displaced millions – also reawakened a two-decade-old ethnic conflict in the western Darfur region.
Observers have accused Wagner of helping support the RSF rebels in order to sow chaos in the country.
The mercenary army has had a presence in Sudan since 2017, providing security services and overseeing gold mining concessions.
Washington also argued last summer that Wagner provided the RSF with surface-to-air missiles.
The role of the murky mercenary army in half a dozen countries across Africa is often difficult to track.
They usually wear no identifiable uniforms, their vehicles are unmarked and their faces masked.
However, Wagner has had a documented presence in Sudan since 2017, providing what they call security services and overseeing the extraction of gold.
In reality, the mercenaries act on behalf of the Russian state to finance bloodshed and help stir up trouble in their support for paramilitary forces.
The Wagner Group’s playbook in Africa has been defined by chaos, atrocities and a hunt for gold to help fund Russia’s bloody war in Ukraine as it grinds into its third year.
An arm’s length from the Kremlin – Wagner provides Vladimir Putin with a level of deniability and unpredictability that is essential to their mission.
Last week, as part of the Kremlin’s takeover of Wagner since the death of its warlord leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in August, its forces in Africa are be rebranded as the “Africa Corps”.
The murky army now shares its name with Nazi forces based in northern Africa during World War 2 and an extensive recruitment campaign was launched last week to source 20,000 new fighters.
The move indicates that Moscow is significantly gearing back up its deadly operations spread across the continent.