An ex-member of the Wagner Group, a private business that contracts military veterans to act as mercenaries, says the Russian military was unprepared for battle in Ukraine.
Reuters quoted ex-Russian mercenary Marat Gabidullin, who stated, “They were caught completely by surprise that the Ukrainian army resisted so fiercely and that they faced the actual army.” He added that Russia had expected to battle “rag-tag militias.”
Gabidullin noted that Russia’s lack of understanding of Ukraine’s army and military capabilities prevented Russia from overtaking the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Russian forces are being consistently pushed back to the border of Ukraine as Ukrainian soldiers retake cities from Russian control.
The Wagner Group is relevant to the current conflict in Ukraine because, according to the BBC, British military intelligence says that about 1,000 of its mercenaries have been contracted to fight in the Ukrainian war.
Gabidullin quit working for the Wagner Group in 2019 but was contacted about returning to take part in the war months before Russia invaded its neighboring country. Gabidullin declined due to Russia’s inability to fight off Ukrainian soldiers effectively.
In the past, the Wagner group participated in the illegal annexation of Crimea and represented Russian interest by fighting in the Syrian civil war. In both instances, they fought alongside Russian soldiers and helped sway the win for Russia.
However, as Gabiullin points out, the Russian military faced small-time groups that lacked many technological advantages and high-power weapons in those instances.
Ukraine is a far cry from falling into that category. At least 31 nations have supported Ukraine with military aid, including weapons, tanks, aircraft carriers, and more.
Gabidullin is not the only one who is now denouncing pro-Kremlin agendas. He is joined in his critical review of Russia’s current military operation by others who have had security backgrounds with access to Russian military strategies and close ties to Vladimir Putin. They agree that the war is being handled poorly and reflects incompetence on behalf of the Russian military.
Igor Girkin and Alexei Alexandrov, both key coordinators during the 2014 Crimea invasion, voiced their opinions critical of how Russia is choosing to handle the current invasion, calling it “a mistake.” Alexandrov stated that he did not believe that Russia had the resources to bring all of Ukraine under its control.