Russia's Africa Corps, which includes former Wagner mercenaries, has been deployed in Kharkiv, UK Intel says

  • Russia has deployed Africa Corps units to aid its offensive in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, UK Intel says.

  • The Africa Corps, created in December 2023, includes former Wagner Group mercenaries.

  • Russia is currently advancing on two fronts in Ukraine's east, and in the northern Kharkiv region.

Russian units from the Ministry of Defense's Africa Corps are now fighting in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, according to the latest UK Defense Intelligence update.

Moscow "has deployed units from the Russian MOD's Africa Corps alongside regular Russian forces and Storm-Z units during their offensive on Vovchansk, northern Khrakiv," the UK Ministry of Defence said on X.

The Africa Corps, which emerged in December 2023, is made up of over 2,000 regular soldiers and officers. The Corps also contains "experienced mercenaries, many of whom previously served in the Wagner Group," the tweet said.

After the demise of Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin last year in a plane crash that many believe to have been ordered by the Kremlin, the Wagner Group has become "marginalized" and "de facto" subordinated to Russia's defense ministry.

"The fighters will do what they are told" by the ministry, Sergey Sukhankin, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, previously told Business Insider.

Russia's MoD created the Africa Corps in an attempt to assume greater control over the group's remaining fighters.

The military formation has been actively recruiting former Wagner Group mercenaries and soldiers who fought in Ukraine for combat operations in Africa.

In a Telegram post in February, it promised an unspecified "high monetary" allowance, payments in foreign currency, service under "competent commanders" with extensive combat experience, and medical care and social benefits.

"Wagner fighters likely have little loyalty to the company itself after Prigozhin's demise and would be willing to fight for whichever Kremlin-backed organization that exists in Africa," Raphael Parens, a fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Eurasia Program, previously told BI.

"These mercenaries care about the bottom line rather than an ideological alignment with Prigozhin," he said.

This undated photograph handed out by French military shows Russian mercenaries boarding a helicopter in northern Mali
This undated photograph handed out by French military shows Russian mercenaries boarding a helicopter in northern MaliFrench Army via Associated Press

The Africa Corps' appearance in Ukraine is a clear sign that Russia is both consolidating its control over the remains of the Wagner Group and "reinforcing its war on Ukraine with resources previously assigned to Africa," the UK intelligence report stated.

Russia "almost certainly" redeployed detachments from its Africa Corps to the Ukrainian border in April 2024 in preparation for its Kharkiv offensive.

Despite earlier reports that claimed Moscow was hoping to take Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, Putin said last week that Russia was only planning on creating a buffer zone to protect the Russian border town of Belgorod.

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