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Wagner group ‘doesn’t exist’

Greece (Brussels Morning Newspaper) For over two decades, President Putin’s political influence has not been threatened. It took a private mercenary company, acting as a revolutionary movement, to shake the Kremlin. Would the analysts call it a bad moment, or the peak of the political pressure the war in Ukraine and the Ministry of Defense has brought to the Kremlin.

“I evaluated what they performed on the battlefield on the one hand and what they did during the events of June 24 on the other hand at the meeting. Third, I presented them with all of their options, including combat, for continuing service. That’s all,” the Russian president said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Wagner private military company “simply doesn’t exist” as a legal entity, in comments adding to the series of often bizarre twists that have followed the group’s abortive revolt last month – the most serious threat to Putin’s 23-year rule amid the war in Ukraine.

“We don’t have a law on private military organizations! It simply does not exist! <…> The group exists, but legally it does not exist! This is a separate issue related to actual legalization. But this is a question that should be discussed in the State Duma, in the government. It’s not an easy question,” Putin added.

In order to grasp the dynamics of contemporary warfare, covert operations, and international power conflicts, it is more important to understand the Wagner Group as the world navigates an era of geopolitical complexity.

Who are those guys

A private military contractor called The Wagner Group, also referred to as Wagner PMC (Private Military Company), first appeared in the early 2010s and claimed to have been established by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian tycoon with strong ties to the Kremlin. However, Prigozhin himself and the Russian government both rejected any official ties to the group till the war in Ukraine.

The Wagner Group most likely doesn’t exist, which is the first thing to grasp about it. According to analysts, there isn’t a single Wagner-related registered firm. Instead, the term now refers to a network of companies and mercenary organizations that are connected by overlaps in ownership and logistics networks. The U.S. Treasury has designated entities that make up the network as subject to penalties for a variety of acts, including paramilitary activity, disinformation campaigns, the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations, and mining for gold and diamonds.

The Wagner Group’s operations frequently straddle the border between overt operations and conventional military combat, giving rise to the idea of “grey zone warfare.” Private military contractors like Wagner (yes more exist) can be used in this hazy environment to accomplish strategic objectives while maintaining plausible denial for sponsoring states. With this strategy, parties involved can control the narrative and avoid taking direct accountability for their deeds.

Wagner Group is a for-profit company that provides private military contractor services to a variety of clients, purportedly including foreign governments (Kremlin firendly). The company hires former service members, primarily from the Russian Armed Forces, by promising them rich compensation, the chance to take part in covert operations, and combat experience.

The activities of the Wagner Group go far beyond the boundaries of Russia. According to reports, it has participated in armed conflicts and military activities in a number of nations, including Mozambique, Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Libya. Their operatives frequently work as a versatile tool to advance Russian goals when the regular Russian armed forces are not directly involved in combat.

What future holds

Following months of criticism of how Russia’s military leadership was waging war in Ukraine, Prigozhin took the helm of the uprising late last month. He had claimed that the mutiny was meant to unseat Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister. 

Before agreeing to stand down and Prigozhin agreeing to travel to Belarus as part of an agreement to have accusations against him dropped, the troops had begun advancing in the direction of Moscow. However, a few days later, he and other Wagner commanders had a three-hour meeting with Putin in Russia.

Prigozhin is an improbable choice to be in charge of an international network of paramilitaries or political influence operations given his lack of military experience. But because of his history of working with the Russian Ministry of Defense and his alleged closeness to Putin, experts think that he has been used as a middleman to hide actions by the Russian government. 

While the Wagner Group’s operators train in a location in Molkino, southern Russia, which is shared by Russian special forces, the U.S. government has labeled the group as a front for the Russian Ministry of Defense. But with the head of the company in Belarus, who really is the leader of the mercenaries. We will find out with time.

The Wagner Group continues to be a mysterious organization that frequently operates under the radar of geopolitics and conflict. The international community must confront the issues posed by such organizations as long as private military contractors continue to play prominent roles in international conflicts. They must take important steps to ensure accountability, transparency, and compliance with international law in order to reduce the dangers involved in their operations. As time goes on, creating a safer and more secure society will depend heavily on our ability to comprehend the actions and motivations of the Wagner Group.

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