‘A well-aimed strike’ Ukrainian forces destroy Wagner Group headquarters in Luhansk region after pro-Kremlin war reporter reveals its location
Ukrainian forces have reportedly destroyed a military headquarters in Popasna belonging to Russia’s Wagner Group after a pro-Kremlin journalist revealed its location. Luhansk Governor Serhiy Hayday confirmed that Ukraine was behind the strike on Monday, August 15:
“The [Armed Forces of Ukraine] successfully hit an enemy headquarters, which was pointed out by a representative of the Russian mass media,” Hayday wrote on Telegram. “This time yesterday in Popasna, a Wagner PMC headquarters was destroyed by a well-aimed strike. The number of dead is being clarified.”
As Meduza reported previously, Russia deployed mercenaries from the notorious Wagner private military company (PMC) to Ukraine in late March. The attack on the group’s headquarters in the Russian-occupied town of Popasna was initially reported by several pro-Kremlin war correspondents on Sunday, August 14.
“Reverse side of the medal,” a Telegram channel linked to the Wagner Group, broke the news, sharing photos purportedly taken in the aftermath of the attack. The propaganda website Russian Spring then published the same photos on its Telegram channel (shown below), along with a video allegedly recorded at the scene. At the time, Russian Spring reported that there were “several wounded and apparently one dead.”
In turn, Russian war correspondent Yuri Kotenok said that his “sources in the Donbas” confirmed that “one of the Wagner PMC locations in Popasna” had been hit. “Probably HIMARS,” Kotenok wrote on Telegram, referring to the high-mobility artillery rocket systems the U.S. has supplied to Ukraine. “Ukrainian sources report the death of [Evgeny] Prigozhin — we don’t confirm that,” he added.
Kremlin-linked tycoon Evgeny Prigozhin is said to finance the Wagner PMC. On Monday, RIA Novosti reported that photos appearing to show Prigozhin visiting the scene of the attack in Popasna were circulating online.
Earlier, on Sunday, RFE/RL’s Radio Svoboda reported that photos of the destruction from the strike had allowed journalists to pinpoint the location of the Wagner Group HQ as 12 Myronivska Street. Pro-Kremlin war correspondent Sergey Sreda revealed this same address in a since-deleted Telegram post on August 8, where he claimed to have visited the mercenary company’s Popasna headquarters at the same time as Prigozhin.
Writing on Twitter on Sunday, Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) founder Ruslan Leviev said that he still had “some doubts about what really happened.”
“Even the stupidest pro-Russian military correspondents know about the ban on filming military facilities [and] locations, they know about the possibility of an incoming strike on those coordinates and so on. And here they are directly posing near the headquarters, and even with someone who looks like Prigozhin?”
With this in mind, Leviev speculated that the photo-op may have been an attempt by Russia’s forces to “lure out HIMARS,” in order to determine their location and destroy them.
Having analyzed the photos Sergey Sreda posted on August 8, as well as the video purportedly recorded after the explosion, Meduza established that both show the same building. However, the video footage shows it from the other side. Judging by the damage to the building, the strike came from Ukrainian-controlled territory near Siversk, a city about 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Popasna.
Later on Monday, Governor Hayday claimed in an interview that the strike likely killed more than 100 Wagner mercenaries. The number of casualties has yet to be confirmed.