How Russia uses parastatal military companies to its advantage

Online Event: Russia’s “Private” Military Companies: The Example of the Wagner Group

How Russia uses parastatal military companies to its advantage

American experts believe that the example; Wagner’s group can determine what the Kremlin is trying to achieve in a given country

Russia is increasingly resorting to using “private” military companies to advance its interests in different countries of the world. For example, the “Wagner Group”, which some experts call a parastatal formation, not a PMC, was used in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Libya, Mozambique and Mali..

The group is closely linked to the Russian GRU and is funded by one of Vladimir Putin’s close associates, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who also uses it for personal purposes, some experts say. At the same time, the “Wagner Group” remains technically illegal and even unconstitutional in Russia. Experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies held a virtual round table dedicated to this topic.

According to Kimberly Martin, a professor at Columbia University, the Wagner Group operates where the Russian authorities believe Russian interests are affected, and it has government support. Recently, the group has been spotted in the Central African Republic..

“The Putin regime is exploring a new model of interaction in foreign and security policy, when there is support for a specific leader in another country in exchange for access to raw materials, and the“ Wagner group ”is a key element in this. Yevgeny Prigozhin has contracts for the protection of diamond mines and gold mines in the CAR in exchange for a portion of the proceeds, presumably using the “Wagner group” for this. In neighboring Sudan, he trains troops and guards gold mines in exchange for a portion of the profits. But these are private mines and the profit is small, ”says Kimberly Martin..

According to her, Valery Zakharov, Security Adviser to the President of the CAR Faustin-Archang Touadere, and Yevgeny Prigozhin managed to help the rebels, who control 80% of the country, to sign a peace agreement with the government in Bangui, which neither the UN nor the African Union could do for a long time. many years.

“According to experts from the International Crisis Group, this means that the rebels got positions in the CAR government without going through the appropriate checks. This means that Russia is testing a new model, which can then be used in other countries, “adds a professor at Columbia University..

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She notes that the “Wagner group” has been seen in other countries. For example, its members took an active part in the hostilities in Donbass and, according to the Security Service of Ukraine, were involved in the destruction of the Il-76 aircraft, the storming of the Luhansk airport and the battles in Debaltseve..

“Wagner is also in Libya, where he supports the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, who recently announced that part of eastern Libya, which he controls, is coming under his control. In northern Mozambique, they fought jihadist rebels. Now they may be recalled because they were caught in a serious surprise firefight and suffered serious casualties. We know they were in Mali fighting terrorism on behalf of the government, and they may return to Syria. There are new gas and oil contracts in which Prigozhin’s firms participate. However, we do not know for sure if Wagner will protect these new gas and oil contracts, but they are in the same places where they were previously seen. So it’s not surprising if it happens, ”said Kimberly Martin..

In the countries of Latin America, the presence of the “Wagner group” was noticed in Venezuela. Expert of the Center for Naval Analysis Jeffrey Edmonds notes that Latin America is no less interesting for Russia than African countries.

“I don’t think Latin America is less interesting than African countries. At the same time, there is no certainty that the Wagner group and others like it want to work with Colombia, Brazil and Argentina. Moreover, I do not think that the governments of these countries want to cooperate with Russia. Of course, there may be areas for cooperation, for example, in the field of security, for example, the fight against drugs. This region is of little interest to Russia in terms of using Wagner-type groups there, says Jeffrey Edmonds..

Experts note that the future of the “Wagner Group” itself and those like it in Russia is uncertain: all members can be arrested at any time – as happened before – since the existence of such formations and participation in them is illegal. Thus, the FSB at one time arrested all members of the “Slavic Corps” on charges of mercenary activity. “What the state gives, it can quickly take away,” says Kimberly Martin. – The second case occurred in February 2018, when the Russian Ministry of Defense refused to acknowledge their presence [in Syria], saying: “They are not ours. This is someone else. They do not belong to us ””.

Experts note that the maintenance of groups like Wagner is not affected by the fall in oil prices, since the costs for them are noticeably less than for regular troops..

  • Alexander Yanevsky

    Journalist. Graduated from the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. He has worked on Channel 1 + 1 and Channel 5, on the Voice of America since 2014, and was one of two Voice of America correspondents covering the 2018 Russian presidential elections from Moscow. He pays attention to the topic of US-Ukrainian and US-Russian relations. Actively covered the case of Paul Manafort and Maria Butina.

    [email protected]

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How Russia uses parastatal military companies to its advantage

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