John LyonsABC Global Affairs Editor
analysis – The Wagner Group has been called everything from ‘Putin’s Ghost Corps’ to ‘hired killers’.
But perhaps the most brutal explanation comes from the Ukrainian ambassador to Australia.
Ambassador Vasyl Miroshnichenko does not hesitate to say, “If a member of Wagner survives the battlefield, justice awaits Wagner.”
Few objects these days elicit such a strong response from Ukrainians as the Wagner Group. The Wagner Group is a Russian mercenary group that does what even the feared Russian special forces, the Spetsnaz, do not do.
They are considered the most ruthless mercenaries in the world. And with the Russian regular army reeling under pressure from the more ambitious Ukrainian army, the Wagner Group was forced into the Kremlin to turn the tide.
Secret No More
The Wagner Group was founded by Yegveny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, known as “Putin’s Chef” in the 2000s.
For years, Putin did not recognize Wagner or even mention his name.
However, in recent years he has mentioned it, admitting that Russian analysts knew. Similarly, since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Prigozhin has become more open about the group, openly visiting Russian prisons to recruit criminals to join Wagner and sapping military momentum from Ukraine. I am even trying.
This week, the BBC quoted a British official as saying the number of Wagner fighters in Ukraine had risen to 20,000 from about 1,000 in February.
As Russia’s conventional army has fought a more determined and more ambitious Ukrainian army, Russia has turned to the Wagner Group’s dark forces to enable the Putin regime to commit atrocities and war crimes. I became more and more dependent on art. They claim they were not regular soldiers in the Russian army.
The Wagner Group has worked with various entities in Central Africa, Libya and Syria to do work that regular armed forces cannot or cannot do. These contracts were financial, but Ukraine is a different deal. Not only are they making money, their efforts are matched by Moscow’s desperation for success on the battlefield.
Putin’s three mistakes
When Putin concentrated some 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border in January, he apparently expected Kyiv to fall within days.
Putin didn’t expect three things. The West will rapidly come to favor Ukraine and, perhaps most importantly, the emergence of Volodymyr Zelensky as a unifying and inspiring leader.
Wagner groups have been built up in the Russian media as much as the Russian regular army has been forced to withdraw under pressure from the Ukrainian military.
The Kremlin-controlled media have sought to glorify these groups, along with some of the other Russian mercenary groups, which Russian media refer to as private military companies (PMCs) rather than mercenary groups. All this happened despite the fact that technically PMCs are illegal in Russia.
Radio France International reported on December 9 that the Russian RT media group has released a 26-minute documentary. PMC Wagner – Contract with the Motherland Praised Wagner’s “Warrior”. Prigogine is gaining attention in the Russian media, stating that “the image of a noble mercenary patriot is necessary for the authorities to attract more and more men into the machine.”
“Better than cannon fodder, but probably not by much.”
Vasyl Myroshnychenko says the Wagner Group offers plausible deniability to the Putin regime, including in the context of war crimes such as the deliberate destruction of hospitals and schools.
“Wagner is officially outside the Russian military chain of command. This is a deliberate operation that allows Wagner to commit illegal and malicious acts,” he said.
Ian Palmer, a research fellow at the Australian National University and former counselor at the Australian Embassy in Moscow, says Wagner was used in Donbass in 2014 and Syria in 2015.
“Wagner’s mercenaries include former Spetsnaz personnel, but they have different characteristics than Spetsnaz. It was first deployed to Donbass in 2014, dulling international criticism, violating Ukrainian sovereignty and hiding Russian casualties from the Russian public, he says.
“According to estimates in Ukraine, perhaps a third of the mercenaries did not speak Russian. Although the intervention was by the Air Force, Wagner’s mercenaries would serve as a force multiplier for the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah ground attack, and as spotters and targets for Russian airstrikes and naval artillery fire off the Syrian coast.
Another major factor that differentiates Wagner and Spetsnaz, Permeter says, is that Prigogine has turned Wagner into a money-making enterprise and “dirty because of its nasty regimes in Syria, Libya and various sub-Saharan African countries.” He says that he wants to “work”.
He says the Wagner Group has its own training facility near Krasnodar, but its operatives are not as well trained as the Spetsnaz.
“Reports of Prigogine recruiting from prison suggest a lower than acceptable talent base for entry into Spetsnaz,” he says.
“The debacle suffered by the Wagner Group near Deir al-Zor on February 7-8, 2018 shows that they are not up to the combat level of the Spetsnaz forces.”
Permeter says that recent reports of the fighting around Bahmut show that Wagner’s mercenaries were “better than cannon fodder, but perhaps not much better.”
“Russian propaganda campaigns promoting Wagner’s mystique are clearly aimed at promoting military recruitment,” he said.
“Success in increasing the number of Wagnerian volunteers would reduce the Putin regime’s need for forced mobilization, which is clearly unpopular with Russians.
“Clearly, a major factor in Ukraine’s success in pushing back Russian forces has been the stronger motivation of Ukrainian fighters, boosted by military, logistical and training support provided by the United States and other NATO countries. ”
Permeter says the Russian military’s poor performance cannot be attributed to any particular factor.
“Low morale is clearly part of it, and it will affect not only Wagner’s operatives, but also ordinary Russian soldiers. The poor planning of Russian military strategists in the early stages of the war “And perhaps overconfidence will also play a role. The problem with Russia in Ukraine is far more that the operation itself was the wrong idea.”
De facto member of Putin’s inner circle
Are there any restrictions on the actions of Wagner’s mercenaries?
“I think the answer is that they’re completely ruthless,” Palmer says.
“Because they operate outside Russian law, there is virtually no accountability mechanism unless some of them are prosecuted at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Given that, it is even more unlikely.”
Parmeter cited a BBC report that said former members of Wagner had killed prisoners, deliberately murdered civilians, tortured, mined and booby-trapped civilian areas.
of oxford middle east review “Wagner’s origins, like much of its structure and funding, are shrouded in mystery. It is not a registered company in Russia, where mercenary groups are illegal, according to an analysis by the New America Think Tank and Center. , with a Future of War theme, was registered in Hong Kong in 2012 as Slavonic Corps Ltd by the Moran Group, a company founded by Russian veterans to provide international security services.”
Parmeter continued: Oligarchs… Prigozhin is below them. He has no independent power base and strives for influence and economic reward by pleasing Putin.
“Putin argued in a 2018 interview that Prigogine had no official position and that Russia was not responsible for Prigogine. It can be assumed that Putin’s approval of the decision will be required when Wagner is deployed.If he falls out of Putin’s favor, he will return to running the restaurant.
Former Australian Ambassador to Moscow, Peter Tesch, said it was clear that the Wagner Group had sufficient presidential powers to participate in the war. He says the idea that Russia had a private army was ridiculed by official Russian sources in recent years when the first words about Wagner’s operations in central Africa began to appear.
He implicitly says that Wagner is a condemnation of the professional military and its conduct in the war in Ukraine.
“Of course, overlooked by the Kremlin and its spokesmen is the reality that prisoners must be rake from prisons with money and other bribes in order to fall prey to cannons with little chance of survival or true redemption. It says a lot about the dire situation Russia found itself in,” says Tesh.
He said Wagner’s importance in Ukraine is difficult to assess from a military perspective because there are uncertainties about the real numbers involved.
“These assessments vary, but in any case the fiction that others have so-called mercenaries, and that Russia has loyalists, is either due to Evgeny Prigozhin’s private-army entitlement, or perhaps unwilling leniency. It’s been watered down,” says Tesh.
“Also, I do not know that Wagner has significantly greater success than the so-called professional Russian army. They would at least appear to be at odds with the Kadyrovtsy, the Chechens, on the stakes of atrocities .”
Tesch said the Kremlin’s willingness to at least acquiesce in both acknowledging Wagner’s role and what was virtually unavoidable speaks to the whole debacle of Russia’s prosecution of the war. ing.
“The Kremlin’s reliance on mercenaries, no matter what they claim, sets them apart from paid Russian crooks and other nationalities willing to fight alongside Ukrainians.” he says
“It also puts in their faces, along with repeated invitations to reconcile this aggression, the privileges and special responsibilities of Russia as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and therefore both the designers and guarantors of the system. It should be thrown squarely at the international security that its actions undermine.”
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/481481/as-putin-s-army-loses-ground-in-ukraine-he-s-relying-more-and-more-on-wagner-group-mercenaries As Putin’s army dwindles in Ukraine, he increasingly relies on Wagner Group mercenaries