BLACK OPS: Putin sent private military forces on secret missions into Syria and Ukraine

BLACK OPS: Putin sent private military forces on secret missions into Syria and Ukraine

VLADIMIR Putin sent Russian mercenaries to fight in Ukraine and Syria in secret black ops missions he could deny any involvement in, a report has claimed.

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Vladimir Putin has allegedly used mercenaries

Russian newspaper Fontanka found the Kremlin hired fighters paid by the Wagner company to take part in Russia’s conflicts.

And Russia even decorated some of the fighters for their services.

Although Wagner does not officially exist, because Russia bans private military companies, it has a training camp in the Russian village of Molkino.

Maksim KolganovIG

Maksim Kolganov

And while Russia’s defence ministry says just six servicemen have been killed in Syria, Wagner soldiers have claimed that there have been several dozen fatalities.Maksim Kolganov, a Wagner mercenary, is believed to have been killed in Syria on Feb 3 after which he received a posthumous “For Courage” medal from the Kremlin.

In the past, Mr Putin has spoken in public about how mercenary companies could be used to conduct so-called deniable operations.

In 2012, when he was Russian Prime Minister, he argued they should be legalised saying they were “a tool for the implementation of national interests without direct participation of the state”.

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Armoured lorries near Molkino

The revelation of the covert ops comes after tensions between Ukraine and Russia after Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea peninsular.The eastern half of Russia’s southern neighbour has become a warzone over the last two years after a revolution overthrew the pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.

And areas around the city of Donetsk are controlled by an armed insurgency while parts of the south have seen pro-Russian protests.

Last September Russia launched a campaign of air strikes in Syria which were claimed to be targeting Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis.

Vladimir PutinGETTY IMAGES

Vladimir Putin

Thousands of raids have been launched, but it has been claimed the bombing campaign was actually hitting those opposed to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.Many commentators, including Donald Trump, have said the West should not oppose Russian intervention if it helps defeat ISIS jihadis.

While earlier this month Russia said they were pulling troops out of Syria, their bombers helped recapture Palmyra from the clutches of ISIS over the weekend.

Putin’s stance on Syria has meant Russia has had to be more wary of jihadists, with 20 ISIS recruiters arrested in Russia over the weekend.

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