Russia has sent more than 1,000 mercenaries from the private military company known as the Wagner Group to fight in eastern Ukraine, according to British and US officials—the latest maneuver in what many have deemed a shift in strategy from Russia as its soldiers continue to face unforeseen difficulties in its invasion of Ukraine.

Key Facts

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Russia is expected to deploy more than 1,000 mercenaries of the Wagner group, including senior leaders of the private defense group, to eastern Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Monday, echoing reports from anonymous US and western officials who spoke to the New York Times in a story released Friday.

Russia has reprioritized the defense group — which is similar to defense contractors used by Western nations — by pulling personnel away from other assigned missions in Africa and Syria to focus on its war with Ukraine, according to the UK intelligence report.

Russia has tasked the Wagner Group with assisting Russian forces in taking the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, which have been partly controlled by pro-Russian separatist forces since 2014, an unnamed US official told the Times.

There were about 300 Wagner group soldiers in Ukraine ahead of the start of the invasion, according to the Times,


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