Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) used a long-range weapon to demolish an apartment building occupied by dozens of members of the Kremlin-financed Wagner mercenary group, possibly using targeting information accidentally leaked by a pro-Russia journalist.
The strike on Sunday, August 14, reportedly hit the Wagner field headquarters in an industrial region in the Donbas town of Popasna. According to unconfirmed reports in Ukrainian military news feeds, at least 10 members of the group died and more than 20 were injured in the attack, likely carried out with a long-range HIMARS precision-guided artillery rocket.
Both Ukrainian independent news agencies and information platforms from the Moscow-run Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) showed images of military medics carrying corpses and injured soldiers from a building adjacent to the town’s rail station. It was not clear from reports whether Yevgeny Prigozhin, Vladimir Putin’s former personal cook, was present when the attack happened.
Russian Federation forces captured Popasna from UAF units after fierce house-to-house fighting that ended in early May. Kremlin-paid mercenaries, led by Wagner group infantry and special forces police from the RF region of Chechnya spearheaded the assault.
Popasna is currently some 30 kilometers away from the nearest likely UAF long-range artillery firing positions. Aside from HIMARS precision-guided rockets with a reported maximum range of 75 km, the UAF operates NATO-standard artillery pieces capable of firing a precision-guided shell up to 40 km.
According to multiple news reports, UAF targeting teams identified the precise address of Wagner’s Popasna headquarters – Mironovska Street, 12 – following the publication of a glowing report on the mercenary group by Russian military reporter Sergei Sreda.
Sreda posted details on August 8 in his personal Telegram channel of a visit by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is the current head of the Wagner group, to Popasna.
Sreda’s report showed images of Prigozhin handing out medals to Wagner group members for “liberating” Popasna. Video shows the awards ceremony taking place in front of a brick building with its street address clearly visible. After the base was hit Sreda deleted the photos and text account. However, Ukrainian military-linked social media was widely forwarding the materials on Monday, August 15.
Using funds thought to have been provided by the Kremlin, Prigozhin raised Wagner in the early 2000s, primarily to allow the Kremlin to carry out deniable military acts. According to news reports, Prigozhin is a supporter of Fascist ideology and named the group Wagner in honor of German composer Richard Wagner.
Prigozhin has stated the group engages only legal security missions. Independent news reports and multiple eyewitness accounts have identified Wagner operatives as active participants of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the 2014 invasion of Donbas and the 2015 intervention in Syria.
The Popasna strike came on the heels of multiple reports of UAF long-range attacks against RF rear area targets, across the fighting front. According to a Sunday, August 14 statement by Serhiy Bratchuk, head of the Odesa regional defense command, UAF artillery in the southern sector alone, aside from Popasna, pounded an RF military base near the town of Tokmak in the Zaporizhia sector and an ammunition dump in Kherson’s Berslavsky District. Both targets were eliminated, Bratchuk claimed.
Ukraine’s Army General Staff (AGS) on Sunday, August 14 reported UAF long-range strike forces had made repeated strikes against road and rail bridges crossing the Dnipro River near Kherson, effectively isolating RF forces in the city. Currently, according to news reports, the only reliable means of entering or leaving Kherson from RF-controlled territory is by pontoon ferry operated by the RF military. On Friday, August 12 UAF official sources said RF headquarters units in Kherson had abandoned buildings in the city, which has been occupied since March, and crossed the Dnipro to the RF-controlled left bank of the river. RF sources have not confirmed the claim.