Russia’s Wagner mercenaries are reportedly drugging untrained conscripts before sending them into battle in suicidal “human wave” attacks, Ukrainian fighters have claimed.
One Ukrainian soldier, who gave his name as Andriy, described how the Russians would keep advancing despite withering fire from the defenders.
Even when shot, some of the Russians would keep coming, like something out of a zombie movie, he said.
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“We were fighting for about 10 hours in a row. And it wasn’t like just waves, it was uninterrupted,” he told CNN, "…they didn’t stop coming".
Andriy was one of a group of around 20 Ukrainian soldiers faced, he said, with a Russian force of perhaps 10 times that number.
The Wagner Group’s tactics are to send untrained troops conscripted from Russia ’s prisons as an advance wave of shock troops, in hope of exhausting the Ukrainians’ ammunition.
These men are poorly equipped, Andriy says, and are just hoping to be lucky enough to survive their six-month contracts so they can go home to their families.
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The Ukrainians – firing almost constantly – have to keep picking up new AK-47s because the guns overheat with the constant use.
And, he says, the Russian troops appear to be drugged, not noticing when they are shot.
“Our machine gunner was almost getting crazy, because he was shooting at them,” Andriy recalled.
“And he said, ‘I know I shot him, but he doesn’t fall’. And then after some time, when he maybe bleeds out, so he just falls down.”
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The Wagner crops are like zombies, he says: “They’re climbing above the corpse of their friends, stepping on them…”
It’s only when the defenders’ ammunition stocks are depleted that the real Russian troops go into action, often launching flanking attacks to try to catch the Ukrainians unawares.
One of the Wagner fighters captured by Andriy’s unit was interrogated on camera.
When asked when it was that he first realised he was “just a piece of meat” to his Wagner commanders, the captive says “At the first combat mission”.
But asked why they put up with it, and are afraid to change the way the war – and their country – is run the captured Russian admits “We’re afraid of Putin”.
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