Hrytsak told on air of Priamyi TV channel, Censor.NET reports.
"'Wagner's group' was created in late May 2014. Wagner is former citizen [of Ukraine - ed.], born in the Kirovohrad region. Back then his group comprised 10 people. They credit themselves, as far as we know, with the downing of Ukrainian Il-76 with paratroopers above Luhansk," SBU chief said.
"By late August 2014 they were 300 people. In 2015, 1,350 men of Wagner were sent to Syria. Subsequently, the group grew, and more than 1,000 mercenaries were sent to Syria. They were taken back after three months. In early 2016, they were sent to Syria again. They had been reinforced. Now they are being dragged out of Syria," Hrytsak said.
"Wagner's PMC comprises highly professional former Spetsnaz representatives who will be used primarily by the Russian military leadership in situations where they will not be able to officially use the army. At first, 10 people ran in. Now, according to our data, there are about 5,000 of them. We are working in this direction, we managed to establish identities of more than 1,400 soldiers of Wagner's PMC," said Hrytsak.
The head of the Security Service stressed that such a grouping is actually a powerful private pocket army operating tanks, armored personnel carriers, BM-21 Grads, and heavy artillery.
"They've created a powerful pocket army operating tanks, armored personnel carriers, BM-21 Grads, and heavy artillery. What does it look like? It looks like a private army of Putin. If the situation destabilizes, God forbid, in Belarus or Baltics states or Moldova, the first to go there wearing civilian clothing will be the representatives of Wagner PMC. This is why we're working on identifying these people, members of Wagner PMC, to make this information public so that our partners in Europe knew them personally. We are thus strengthening European security," Hrytsak said.
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