The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has identified 26 Russian officers who have been "sent" to serve as combat training instructors for PMC Wagner since 2014, as stated during a briefing by SBU Head Vasyl Hrytsak, the SBU Press Service reports.
According to Hrytsak, Russian military personnel conducted exercises for “Putin’s private army" that included tactical, fire, engineering and artillery training, as well as training for tank crews, infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, and anti-aircraft defense forces.
"We have identified Lieutenant Colonel of the Russian Armed Forces Oleg Demyanenko, who is directly responsible for the training of the so-called Karpaty (Carpathians) tactical group, which consisted mainly of citizens of Ukraine who were members of illegal armed formations in [Russian-occupied] Donbas," the SBU Chief said.
Hrytsak explained that this group was formed to conduct "terrorist reconnaissance activities" on the territory of Ukraine.
The SBU have identified all of the Karpaty participants, a total of 56 individuals, and will publish their personal information in the near future.
According to the SBU Chief, the leadership of PMC Wagner and the combat training department instructors were invited to a parade in Moscow on May 9.
"I am convinced that this is intended to raise the morale of the mercenaries after the numerous losses they incurred in Syria at the beginning of this year," added Hrytsak.
PMC Wagner first became well known in March 2016, when it was highlighted in an article from the St. Petersburg publication Fontanka. According to the publication, PMC is supported by Dmitry Utkin, a former brigade commander for the special forces unit of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), where he had the call sign ‘Wagner’. According to independent investigators from the Conflict Intelligence Team, Wagner fighters have been participating in in the Syria conflict. The group's participation in Russia’s military operation is not officially recognized.
In addition, it has been made public that the soldiers from PMC Wagner are involved in military operations in the Donbas. The SBU has found evidence of PMC Wagner’s participation in the destruction of the Ukrainian Il-76 in the Donbas, as well as the events in Debaltsevo.
Approximately 40 Ukrainians have also joined PMC Wagner.