On Thursday, Ukraine’s military announced that their air defense systems successfully intercepted and brought down 34 out of 44 Shahed drones that Russia deployed for an overnight attack on the country.
The regions subjected to the assault encompassed Mykolaiv, Odesa, and Kirovohrad. Oleh Kiper, the governor of the Odesa region, conveyed via Telegram that no casualties were reported in Odesa, with no substantial damage aside from a few minor grass fires caused by debris from the falling drones.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during his evening address on Wednesday, emphasized the urgent need for additional resources to counter Russian missiles, Shahid drones, other combat UAVs, and Russian aircraft.
Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude to the global community for their assistance and willingness to increase support, particularly in providing enhanced protection against Russian acts of terror in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, a Ukrainian Army spokesperson revealed that approximately 500 Wagner mercenaries, who had previously fought alongside Russian troops in Ukraine before fleeing to Belarus following a brief mutiny in June, have returned to the front lines to engage once again with Kyiv’s forces.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner private military company, had met a tragic fate in a plane crash in Russia the previous month, leading to uncertainties about the future of his paramilitary forces. While some of these mercenaries, potentially numbering as many as 6,000, had spent three months in Belarus, others had been deployed to Africa, where Wagner had ongoing operations.
Currently, approximately 500 Wagner troops have resumed combat operations in Ukraine on behalf of Russia, as confirmed by Ilya Yevlash, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s Eastern Grouping of Forces. He noted that the Russian Defense Ministry had renegotiated contracts with these returning mercenaries.
Yevlash emphasized that while these individuals are highly trained within the Russian army, their return is not expected to significantly alter the overall dynamics of the conflict.
Many of the Wagner forces that previously fought in Ukraine had been involved in the short-lived mutiny but had subsequently moved to Belarus under an agreement brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in collaboration with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yevlash also mentioned that the camps in Belarus are currently being disbanded.
The cause of the plane crash that resulted in the deaths of Prigozhin and other Wagner leaders remains undetermined. However, numerous Western officials speculate that it could have been a form of retribution by Putin in response to the uprising led by Prigozhin, which involved a troop movement toward Moscow that he abruptly called off. In the weeks following the mutiny, Prigozhin had met with Putin at the Kremlin and freely traveled within Russia before the tragic plane crash occurred.