Russian Federation forces have stepped up their campaign of air strikes with missiles and drones against the concentration of foreign mercenary troops.
Once again, a precision strike on was aimed at a temporary location of foreign militants in the city of Kharkov, primarily composed of French mercenaries.
“Russia said on Wednesday its forces had carried out a precision strike a day earlier on a building housing ‘foreign fighters’ in Ukraine’s second city Kharkov.
The defense ministry said the fighters were mostly French mercenaries and the building was destroyed, with more than 60 people killed.”
Local officials in Kharkov said two Russian missiles struck a residential area in the centre of the city on Tuesday.
This in a way repeats the attack in late December, the Russian armed forces have hit the former Kharkov Palace Hotel, where Ukrainian intelligence and military officials, along with up to 200 foreign mercenaries, were staying.
Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city that lies close to the Russian border, has been under persistent shelling since the beginning of the war – but now the strikes have more frequently targeted the mercenary units.
The Moscow Times reported:
“On the evening of 16 January, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation carried out a precision strike on a temporary deployment point of foreign militants in the city of Kharkov, the core of which were French mercenaries,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry claimed to have killed dozens of foreign militants in the attack and injured many more but did not provide evidence.
After the strikes, Kharkov Governor Oleh Syniehubov said that some residential buildings were destroyed, adding that there were no military targets in the area.”
The strikes hit a multi-storey building in central Kharkov, ‘gutting the structure and leaving debris strewn around the street below’.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country’s priority in 2024 was gaining control over its skies.
France 24 reported:
“‘In 2024, of course the priority is to throw Russia from the skies’, Kuleba said in an address to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
[…] Responding to those calls, French President Emmanuel Macron announced this week that France would deliver a new batch of around 40 SCALP long-range cruise missiles as well as hundreds of bombs as Kyiv fights the Russian assault.”
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Earl Rasmussen spoke with Russian media about Russia’s targeting of French mercenary fighters in Kharkov. He warned that ‘freelancers’ for the Ukrainian military should expect the same treatment as homegrown fighters.
“’I think this follows through with what Russia’s said all along’, said the international consultant on military affairs who spent over 20 years in the US Army. ‘Early on they said if there were mercenaries or foreign fighters, they were going to treat them as combatants. And I think this just reinforces that’.”
Some of the mercenaries captured and traded for Russian soldiers go back to fighting in Ukraine, or else become propaganda tools.
“’I think it [Tuesday’s attack] just clearly establishes the signal and that if you’re going to volunteer, if you’re going to be part of the Ukrainian force, you need to be considered that you’re going to be treated as a combatant, and there shouldn’t be any hesitation on that’, said Rasmussen. ‘And they need to fully realize that. And that’s just basically what this is: hey, even if you’re in a command center, you’re potentially going to be a target’.”
Some of these men are trained soldiers that miss combat, who have had issues when they’re back home.
Some are ultranationalists or they ‘ultra-believe’ in Ukraine.
“Rasmussen nevertheless speculated that several hundred to several thousand NATO advisors may be in Ukraine ‘helping fire these sophisticated weapons systems that are coming in, helping maintain them, [and] helping put together the targeting information’.”