A video from Ukraine shows a chaotic trench battle in the contested city of Bakhmut.
A Ukrainian official said it showed Ukraine reclaiming territory from Russia’s Wagner mercenaries.
In the video, the Russians appear to shove each into incoming fire and shoot a comrade.
A solider with Russia’s Wagner mercenary group appeared to shoot one of his own comrades in chaotic video of a trench battle in Ukraine.
The video, shared by Ukrainian government advisor Anton Gerashchenko on Tuesday, gives an aerial view of soldiers slowly advancing towards each other through trenches in a battlefield marked by explosions.
Gerashchenko said the footage came from Ukraine’s 92nd brigade, which is fighting near the eastern city of Bakhmut, a center of months-long intense and bloody combat.
Gerashchenko quoted a soldier who sent him the video, saying it shows Ukrainian soldiers retaking a trench from Russian forces. It is not clear when it was filmed.
His post said the Russians were from the Wagner paramilitary group, and that Ukraine successfully pushed them from their positions.
The volunteer monitoring grou GeoConfirmed also identified the Russians as being from Wagner, which has taken a leading role in Russia’s offensive in Bakhmut.
At the beginning of the five-and-a-half-minute-long clip, the side identified as Ukrainian has soldiers in three of the four sections of the cross-shaped trench, with the Russian side on the left:
The Russians move slowly towards the waiting Ukrainians, and one retreats quickly after appearing to be shot. Another Russian does not move after that shooting, and was possibly killed.
A Russian solider who was still advancing down the trench then reaches the solider who pulled back, and appears to shoot him.
The seemingly wounded fighter is later seen crawling away.
A little later on, the two sides are taking cover while contesting control of the central area. On the Russian side, one of the soldiers appears to shove his comrades closer to the Ukrainians in an effort to get them to advance.
As the video continues, soldiers on both sides are seen shooting at each other. One from the Russian side is seen crawling away along the trench he came from, and another runs past him, appearing to flee.
Soldiers on both sides appear to be killed throughout the video.
At the end of the footage, at least two Russians are still at the corner with the Ukrainians and moving, while there are other Ukrainians left alive nearby in other trenches.
The Wagner mercenary group, famed for its brutality, has sent tens of thousands of mercenary fighters to Ukraine, and also recruited heavily from Russian prisons.
It would not be the first example of Wagner fighters apparently shooting one another
Members who were captured by Ukraine said that anyone who faltered on the battlefield was shot by their own commanders. A former member said that the group’s leaders shot soldiers who did not want to fight in Ukraine as an example to new recruits.
Wagner group soldiers have been particularly involved in the battle for Bakhmut.
Russia started shelling the city in May 2022, and fighting ramped up in August.
Ukrainians fighting in the city say it has been a “living hell” for months, and commanders on both sides have called it a “meat grinder.”
Russia has lost up to 30,000 soldiers in Bakhmut, according to Western officials. And US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the group was using its poorly-trained convicts as “cannon fodder” there.
Russia has made progress in trying to take the city in recent weeks, but is only inching forward slowly.
The Wagner group took on a growing role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the country’s army struggled to take over the country. US officials even said that the army had started to copy its brutal tactics.
But its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the leaders in Russia’s army top brass have been involved in an escalating power struggle, clashing over who should get credit for victories and who has access to supplies.
And the group has suffered a huge death toll.
The Wagner group is accused of a litany of war crimes in Ukraine, as well as in other countries it has fought in, like Syria and across Africa.
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