Targeting Mercenaries

In a bold maneuver reported by Ukrainian media, Kyiv’s special forces are reportedly targeting Russian mercenaries in Syria. This development comes nine months after a separate CNN report suggested that Ukrainian special forces were likely behind drone strikes and a ground operation against a Russian mercenary militia in Sudan amid the ongoing civil war.

Newsweek has sought comments from the GUR, the foreign ministries of Russia and Syria, and the Sudanese government regarding these claims. The reports underscore the far-reaching consequences of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, which extend well beyond Ukraine’s borders.

On Monday, the English-language Kyiv Post revealed it had obtained video footage from Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate (GUR). The video, filmed in March, purportedly shows Ukrainian special forces collaborating with Syrian rebels to target Russian mercenaries fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s troops, a close ally of Putin. Since Russia intervened in Syria in 2015 to support Assad, Russian troops have maintained a continuous presence in the region.

The Kyiv Post video, shared on YouTube, allegedly depicts coordinated attacks on Russian mercenary positions in the Golan Heights, dismantling checkpoints, strongholds, and convoys. The Ukrainian operation reportedly employs rocket-propelled grenades and improvised “Tarab” mortars against defensive positions. Additionally, the Post mentioned the use of command wire or radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to target vehicles.

Kyiv’s Influence in Sudan: A Shadow War Against Wagner Mercenaries

Back in September 2023, a CNN investigation highlighted a Ukrainian military operation in Sudan. The paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is engaged in a fierce conflict against the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. According to a Ukrainian military source, Kyiv’s special services were “likely responsible” for attacks on the RSF, who are believed to receive assistance from the Wagner mercenary group, known for their involvement in Putin’s war efforts in Ukraine.

Though CNN could not independently confirm Ukraine’s involvement, the footage exhibited characteristics of Ukrainian-style drone attacks. The drones, which appeared to be DJI Magic 3 models—commercially available and widely utilized by Ukrainian forces—conducted at least eight strikes. Ukrainian text was also visible on the device’s controller, the outlet reported.

“We can neither confirm nor deny this,” GUR spokesman Andriy Yusov told CNN. Concurrently, a high-ranking Sudanese military source stated he had “no knowledge of a Ukrainian operation in Sudan.”