Ukrainian military firm reveals its role going after 'high value' Russian targe
A Ukrainian military company has given insights into how it is training commandos for missions deep behind Russian lines.
The ‘extraordinary’ operators are among more than 1,000 soldiers who have been upskilled by the Omega Consulting Group (OCG) as incidents of ‘mysterious’ damage continue on Kremlin-held ground.
The security and defence consultancy is providing specialists for the Armed Forces of Ukraine as well as itself taking part in shadowy missions which it says it cannot yet disclose. Chief executive Andrei Kebkalo spoke to Metro.co.uk as unclaimed drone strikes continued in Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Vladimir Putin’s forces in 2014.
Snipers, bomb technicians, fire controllers, survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pilots and anti-tank operators are among those being trained by his firm.
Drone training is also incorporated into a three-week reconnaissance course for Special Operations Forces (SOF).
‘After completing the training courses trainees return to their assigned units for continued service,’ Mr Kebkalo said.
‘Some of them are going straight to Bakhmut, the hotspot of fierce clashes between Russian and Ukrainian troops.
‘Some of them with extraordinary skillsets are taking part in clandestine operations behind enemy lines.’
Headquartered in northern Ukraine on the border with Belarus, OCG became involved in conventional and then guerilla warfare from the first day of the full-scale invasion, Mr Kebkalo said. The base in Chernihiv was directly in the path of Moscow’s fiercely repelled advance towards Kyiv and the quickest overland route to Chernobyl in eastern Ukraine.
The company’s founder spoke as a steady stream of explosions, UAV attacks and assassinations continues behind Russian lines, with no party claiming responsibility. The incidents include the double drone attack on the Kremlin in the early hours of May 3, which is still defying explanation amid a plethora of competing theories.
Mr Kebkalo did not specify who he thought was responsible but emphasised that Ukraine’s military and irregular resistance movements have volunteers from across the world, including the International Legion, said to have fighters from 52 countries, and Belarus and Russia.
In December, Metro.co.uk told how a secretive ‘Black Box Project’ funded through donations to the Ukrainian Come Back Alive foundation was being used for the stated purpose of degrading Russia’s offensive capability.
Working in partnership with Kyiv’s military intelligence services, the civilian group gave away few details other than oblique references to ‘accidents’ behind Russian lines.
‘This truly hybrid war created a tremendous number of military and paramilitary units, supporters and sympathisers, people and organisations who are willing to help Ukraine in its struggle against the illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,’ Mr Kebkalo said.
‘Many people support us. I know about the existence of guerrilla movements not only in our occupied territories but also in Russia and Belarus. I presume some of them possess the necessary skills, technologies and motivation to create such “mysterious bangs”.’
Damage within Russia’s established borders has been a moot point, with the US, Ukraine’s biggest military backer, not sanctioning such attacks.
However Mr Kebkalo drew a distinction with territory that had been in Ukrainian control before Moscow’s aggression began in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and the Donbas war.
At the weekend, 10 drone attacks were carried out in the peninsular, where at least eight Russian war planes were damaged or destroyed at Saky airbase in another strike last August.
Some of the ‘mysterious’ incidents behind Russian lines
At least eight Russian war planes were damaged or destroyed in an attack on Saky airbase. The site lies more than 100 miles from the frontline.
The key bridge linking Crimea to Russia was struck by a huge explosion. The blast degraded one of Moscow’s key military supply lines.
Attacks take place on two air bases deep inside Russia. Heavy bombers are damaged in what is said to be Ukraine’s most daring operation up to that point.
A large fire breaks out at the facility in the southern Russian city of Tuapse. Two drones exploded at the terminal in the early hours, according to local reports.
A huge fire breaks out at a fuel depot in the port city of Sevastopol after a suspected drone strike described as ‘God’s punishment’ by Ukrainian intelligence
Two drone strikes are carried out on the Kremlin citadel, the most protected area of Moscow. The explosions are filmed at the top of the Senate Palace.
In November, OCG shared a picture on social media of graduates who had completed training in disciplines such as sniping, demolition, subversion, long-range reconnaissance, topography and weapons manipulation.
The company says more than 1,000 soldiers have received training on courses ranging from basic infantry to SOF levels since April 2022, with the majority of the equipment and instruction at NATO standard.
‘Perhaps somewhere mysterious bangs might be heard,’ the post said.
‘If it is our territory, firstly we have all rights to attack the invaders in their rearguard,’ Mr Kebkalo said. ‘Secondly, it is quite important because we can damage or destroy high value targets that are out of reach for our soldiers and technical means on the frontline.
‘I am talking about radar, surface-to-air missile systems, MLRS [Multiple Launch Rocket System], fuel depots etc.
‘Cutting the supply lines is also very important.
‘In terms of sabotage operations on foreign land, then in my personal opinion, and considering the level of Russian hate and barbarism towards Ukrainian people, any damage to enemy military assets is welcome, even if such damage was accidental, through negligence, lack of vigilance, lack of competence, resources or corruption, you name it.
‘I would also highlight that sabotage is quite a symbolic thing.
‘The symbolism of sabotage itself is sometimes more important than its military consequences.’
The most spectacular unclaimed attack in the 15 months of war to date was the explosion on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which degraded one of Moscow’s key military supply lines linking Crimea to Russia.
Mr Kebkalo described the incidents as ‘audacious, effective and somehow symbolic’ without acknowledging who was responsible.
He instead quoted ex-CIA executive director Alvin Bernard ‘Buzzy’ Krongard, who said: ‘The war will be won in large measure by forces you don’t know about, in actions you will not see and in ways you may not want to know about, but we will prevail.’
Speaking ahead of a widely expected Ukrainian counter-offensive, Mr Kebkalo described Western military aid, which has included US HIMARS missile systems and British Challenger 2 tanks, as a vital part of the country’s dogged resistance effort.
‘Foreign military help is invaluable to Ukrainians and definitely an irritating bone in the throat to Russians,’ he said. ‘Yes, sometimes it is not enough, sometimes it is slow, but we are getting literally the best equipment.
‘I want to say thank you to all our foreign partners for supporting Ukraine in the largest war of the 21st Century. United we stand.’
The UK Ministry of Defence said at the weekend that six Russian regions, Crimea and 21 cities had cancelled their May 9 Victory Day parades due to security concerns. The UAV strikes on the Kremlin were said in the intelligence update to have raised Moscow’s ‘threat perception’ over the annual commemorations of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.
Russia launched a missile blitz on Ukraine overnight, thought to be one of the biggest since the start of the all-out war. More than 100 drone, missile and air strikes took place ahead of the Victory Day holiday tomorrow.
British military expert Sean Bell told Sky News that Vladimir Putin was ‘desperately trying to seize the initiative’ ahead of Kyiv’s much anticipated counter-offensive.
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