With confirmation that the Wagner Group has indeed been active in the hot zones in Ukraine, one of the more notorious mercenaries from the group is believed to have been killed by a Ukrainian sniper.
The infamous Wagner Group mercenary named Vladimir Andonov, 44, was reported to be one of the military figures that had been actively killing POWs and civilians throughout his career. According to several social media channels, Telegram channels, and even Russian newspapers, Andonov was killed in Kharkiv sometime in the evening.
The Ukrainian forces, which have actively been launching counterattacks in Kharkiv, had caught Andonov and another mercenary flat-footed as the two Russians were conducting a reconnaissance mission of surrounding areas. Not knowing that he had already been spotted, he was shot by a Ukrainian sniper.
Andonov, a Siberian native of Buryatia, had served in the Russian army from 1997 to 2005. Afterward, he would relocate to the city of Ulan-Ude and enroll in a teaching college. He would drop out later and gain a job before signing up to fight in Donbas, being assigned to the “Olkhon” Special Forces Company.
He reportedly wanted to fight in Donbas because his grandfather fought there during World War II, fighting against the forces of Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera who was implicated in working with Nazi Germany. The KGB would later assassinate Bandera in 1959 in Munich. For some odd reason, former President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera with the title “Hero of Ukraine” despite not being a Ukrainian citizen and having collaborated with the Nazis. Later, the award was removed in 2011.
Moskovskij Komsomolets, a Russian newspaper, revealed that Andonov was active during the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. He operated under the code name “Vaha,” earning the moniker “The Executioner” as he was known to kill prisoners of war and civilians last 2015 also in Donbas. How many he executed is unknown, however, to earn a nickname like “The Executioner” would probably mean a lot. This would also earn him local popularity in Siberia. He would be known as their region’s most famous volunteer. With his grandfather having fought Bandera’s forces, this might have been his motivation for killing the Ukrainians he had under his control.
He actually bragged about his exploits in Ukraine in the past, going to Russian media and telling stories of how he and his unit were instructed to kill all “forces of the enemy” and that they left no survivors.
“There were no survivors among the ‘dills,'” he said. “Dills” is a slur Russians use to describe Ukrainians who actively support the West and their ideas.
After his stint in Crimea and Donbas, he would join his comrades from the Wagner Group and be deployed to Libya and Syria as the Russians have been known to intervene in these countries’ respective conflicts. There, he would earn two medals for valor. This is particularly interesting as Russia has always negated and denied links to the Wagner Group, but also subsequently awarded a mercenary from the group medals for valor.
The BBC confirmed Andonov’s presence in Libya, where a survivor of a gun massacre had identified the executioner as being one of the soldiers that shot his family dead.
Last year we identified Vakha (Vladimir Andanov) as one of the executors of a Libyan family in 2019 who were kidnapped by himself and other members of the Wagner group from their home in Tripoli https://t.co/6k5q8HYY19 https://t.co/lUptYzhgVY
— Nader نادر (@Nader_SM) June 6, 2022
His death in Ukraine was further confirmed by the head of Russia’s Trans-Baikal Territory in Buryatia Zhambal-Zhamso Zhanaev, who announced to the Moskovskij Komsomolets that his body would be obtained from Ukrainian soil and transported back to Russia to be given a proper funeral.
The Wagner Group has reportedly been sent into Ukraine after the Chechen special forces failed to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his family, and several Ukrainian politicians in an attempt to take over the Ukrainian leadership. However, the Wagner Group and the Chechen special forces have failed to do so, leaving them fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Previously, the Wagner Group was also implicated in the Bucha Massacre based on German intelligence. However, no hard evidence can be presented to tie them to the summary executions that have since been one of the most widely used evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Russian forces, which have been the subject of various war crimes trials in Ukraine.
A recently shot down retired Russian Major General Kanamat Botashev was also implicated to be part of the Wagner Group. He was shot down over in Popasna while flying a Su-25 fighter jet. He reportedly was driven to fight in Ukraine because of his nationalism, however he was not allowed to join the official military again as he was dismissed for taking a Su-27UB for a joyride along with another high-ranking Russian official, so he opted to join the Wagner Group.
With the Wagner Group reportedly still being active in the east, it’s unknown what gains they can contribute seeing that there were also reports that the mercenaries did not want to fight anymore as they were reportedly “not paid enough,” indicating that the Russians really have no morale to fight Ukrainian troops anymore.