Ukrainian special forces soldiers in Kyiv’s elite “Shaman” battalion are working inside Russian territory to take out some of Moscow’s senior commanders, according to a new report.
“We have an increased number of targets, missions on specific people or targets, such as buildings where a general or somebody like that is located inside Russia,” a Ukrainian sergeant with the call-sign “Intelligent,” told London’s The Times.
Ukraine’s Shaman battalion, reporting to Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, is thought to have been working against Moscow’s military for the best part of a decade. The leader of the Shaman battalion—who goes by the call sign “Shaman”—told The Drive’s “The War Zone” in July 2022 that the special forces battalion had conducted “previous missions, multiple big numbers of them, into Crimea and other territories.”
Russia has backed pro-Moscow forces in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region since 2014 when the Kremlin also annexed the Crimean peninsula.
“We had some operations in Russia long before 2022,” he said. “Because Russia actually started this war against Ukraine in 2014, not in 2022.”
In June 2022, The Times reported that the Shaman fighters were attempting to “destroy infrastructure vital to the Kremlin’s war effort” in “covert raids inside Russia,” citing two planning operatives and an intelligence officer.
On Monday, Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence said fighters with the Shaman battalion were “advancing deep into the occupied territories and continue to inflict losses on the enemy.”
The brief statement did not specify further details about where the fighters were operating, adding only that a Russian specialist unit was taken out. The fighters were deployed to the Russian-occupied east bank of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War think tank said in an analysis published on Monday, citing Ukrainian authorities.
Newsweek reached out to Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Military Intelligence and the Russian Defense Ministry via email for comment.