War in Ukraine Patriot paramilitary group sighted near Donetsk Ukrainian

War in Ukraine: Patriot paramilitary group sighted near Donetsk, Ukrainian army says

By Eloi Passot

Posted 2 hours ago, Updated 2 hours ago

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on December 21, 2022 in Moscow. Sergei Fadeichev / Sputnik / AFP

The Patriot Group mercenaries are known for their close ties to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Until now, only the Wagner group of the sulphurous businessman Evguéni Prigojine was known to be active on Ukrainian territory. However, spokesman for the Eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Serhiy Cherevaty said that the group “Patriot” was also sighted in the Donetsk region, according to Ukrainian online media Ukrayinska Pravda.

Serhiy Cherevaty claims that this private paramilitary group was seen near Vuhledar. “Particularly in the Stepne area on the Vuhledar front, we noticed next to Wagner PMC [Private Military Company – NDLR]Patriot PMC, linked to the current Russian Defense Minister Shoigu, appeared,” he said, “obviously they are pulling all combat capabilities together to get at least some results.” The mercenaries of the Patriot group are known for their close ties to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and more broadly to the GRU, the Russian secret service.

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Two competing groups?

Like members of the Wagner group, members of the paramilitary group Patriot are said to have been deployed to Africa and the Middle East for several years. In his speech, Serhiy Cherevaty calls the two groups “competitors”, while specifying that they are developing in different “theaters of war” and that, in his opinion, there are no interactions between them. The influence of entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigoyine, founder of Wagner, has been growing since the conflict began, while Russian military operations in Ukraine led by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu have met stubborn resistance from the Ukrainian army.

However, a Russian source who recently confided in Le Figaro on condition of anonymity made rather the opposite observation, confirming that “it is (…) proven that Prigoyine has trusting relations with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu”. Similarly, on the contrary, this interlocutor pointed out that “the interactions of the Wagner group with the GRU appear dense”. In fact, many Wagner executives would be GRU alumni. Wagner, who has grown significantly in his ranks since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, consists of many convicts.

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