Oops: Ukraine destroys Wagner Group HQ after Russian "reporter" accidentally gives away location

Every week or so brings us another too-good-to-check story out of Ukraine that leads one to think, “Even the Russians can’t be that incompetent.”

And that’s a healthy instinct. Between the fog of war and the turbo-charged propaganda on both sides of the conflict, caution is always warranted.

But then you remember: These are the same idiots who made camp in the Red Forest outside Chernobyl.

They absolutely could be this stupid.

If this video is accurate, the boom was a big one:

The Wagner Group has been a top target for Ukraine throughout the war, especially lately with the arrival of U.S. HIMARS systems that let Ukrainian artillery reach far behind the front lines. Why? Because they’re evil even by Russian standards. They’ve earned a reputation for unusual brutality and ruthlessness carrying out off-the-books mercenary operations in theaters like Syria. The Kremlin won’t acknowledge their existence.

Imagine how sinister a unit has to be for the Russian government to not want to be formally associated with it. Earlier in the war, amid widespread evidence of war crimes committed by Russian regulars in Ukrainian towns like Bucha, Putin rewarded the troops responsible with a commendation. The Wagners are too dirty even for him to acknowledge them publicly.

They must be good at their jobs, though, because it was also the Wagner Group that was tasked with assassinating Volodymr Zelensky earlier in the war until the operation to take Kiev went sideways. The reputed head of the Group, top Putin flunky Yevgeny Prigozhin, is also the man who’s been touring Russian prisons lately and offering inmates a get-out-of-jail-free card if they agree to serve in Ukraine, likely as cannon fodder designed to smoke out Ukrainian positions.

Which brings us to an intriguing subplot to the strike on the Wagner Group HQ. Prigozhin himself, or someone who looks very much like him, appeared in one of the photos that Sreda posted and then hurriedly deleted once he realized he had given away the location of the headquarters in Popasna. That was August 8. It’s unclear when Ukraine launched the attack that took the building down but rumors are flying today that Prigozhin hasn’t been seen in public lately.

I’m skeptical that a big fish like him would have been loitering at that base for days on end before the Ukrainians attacked it, but what a coup it would be if they managed to liquidate him in this strike.

Other sources on Telegram are hearing through the grapevine that Prigozhin is alive. As for his men, there’s no way to know how many casualties they took from the explosion but hopeful Ukrainians are guesstimating that there could have been more than 100. Assuming that’s true, and in light of the steep losses Russia has taken throughout the war, it’s anyone’s guess what caliber of soldier is currently filling the ranks of the Wagner Group.

Former NATO commander James Stavridis guesstimates that Russia has six months left in Ukraine before its army goes bust. Hopefully not that long!

Asked whether Putin knew the invasion of Ukraine was a mistake, Stavridis said: “I think in the dark, quiet hours at two o’clock in the morning when he wakes up, he realizes he’s made a mistake. Publicly, he’ll never admit that. Never.”…

Putin is “burning through capability” in Russia’s military, per Stavridi.

“I’d say, six months from now, he’s going to be in very dire straits,” Stavridis said, at which point he speculated that negotiations could begin.

Watch this recent clip from Radio Free Europe of Ukrainian troops describing an encounter with what appears to have been a Wagner unit in Donetsk. Some of them looked foreign, they claim, and had patches with Arabic symbols. Maybe Putin’s been calling in favors from his boy in Syria, Bashar Assad, to help solve his immense manpower problem. Funneling Syrian recruits into the Wagner Group would create some vaguely plausible deniability for the Kremlin about their presence in Ukraine.

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