“The SBU confirms the arrival of additional forces of the Wagner group from Russia to the temporarily occupied parts of Luhansk region, in order to provide military assistance to “LPR Interior Minister” Igor Kornet,” the statement reads.
The SBU notes that in 2015, Kornet and leader of the Wagner group Utkin, under the instructions from the Russian FSB, were getting rid of some of the “LPR” armed groups, who previously had been their allies. The service doesn’t exclude a similar scenario to happen in Luhansk now.
The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary organisation. Some have described it as a private military company (or a private military contracting agency), whose contractors have reportedly taken part in various conflicts, including operations in the Syrian Civil War on the side of the Syrian government as well as in the War in Donbass in Ukraine aiding the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics.
Over the past few days, an open conflict between two “LPR” officials broke out, Head of the “Republic” Igor Plotnytsky and Igor Kornet, the Interior Minister. Due to these confrontations, 30 military vehicles and 150 armed people were spotted in the city center of Luhansk by OSCE observers. Plotnytsky himself fled the republic and went to Moscow yesterday.
Before that, Citizens of Luhansk posted pictures of well-armed men without insignia in the downtown Luhansk. The ‘guests’ arrived and occupied the city centre so fast many locals did not even understand what was going on. Some even assumed these could be the disguised ‘Ukrainian troops’. They also posted photos of Russian tanks that came into the city the same day.
The OSCE observers also reported spotting a column of military equipment first noticed near Debaltseve, Donetsk region, which was likely heading towards Luhansk.