What is the Wagner Group? Who is Evgeny Prigozhin? What you need to know about the Russian Private Military Company

For years it was shrouded in secrecy and then infamous. Now an apparent power struggle is causing chaos, Allegations of rebellion in Russiaswirling questions about the intentions of the notorious Wagner Group and its leader Evgeny Prigozhin.

The group is an important part of Russia’s strategy in Ukraine, with Wagner forces hold a city like bahmut. For several weeks, Mr. Prigozhin harshly criticized the Russian military leadership, calling his superiors incompetent and even traitors. He also refused to sign a cooperation agreement with the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Tensions between the Russian Defense Ministry and Wagner increased dramatically on Friday after Prigozhin claimed that Russian forces attacked Wagner’s camp in eastern Ukraine. Late on Friday, Prigozhin released a videotaped remark that appeared to call an uprising against the Russian military leadership, but was characteristically vague in defining his own plan.

In this photo taken from a video released by Prigozhin on June 23, 2023, Evgeny Prigozhin, the outspoken billionaire head of private military contractor Wagner, speaks during an interview at an unspecified location. ing.

Prigozhin press service via AP, files

Prigozhin announced early Saturday morning that Wagner’s army had left Ukraine for Russia and had arrived in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Rostov-on-Don is home to the Russian military headquarters for the Southern Region, which monitors Russia. fighting in ukraine. The British Ministry of Defense said at an intelligence conference that Prigogine forces appeared to be in control of the army headquarters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the uprising a ‘stab in the back’in a Saturday morning televised address.

“Anyone who prepares an uprising will face inevitable punishment,” Putin said. “The military and other government agencies have the necessary orders.”

What are Wagner Groups?

The Wagner Group is a group of organizations operating as private military companies (PMCs). These PMCs may be employed by the government for security or combat duties.

It’s not uncommon: US uses private military companies during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there are differences between the generally accepted definition of PMC and the definition of the Russian version of the enterprise.

“In NATO countries and in the West, the main logic of using private contractors for security and defense policy is resource flexibility,” said Dr. “But the logic on the Russian side was different. From the beginning, Russia perceived these companies as a covert means of exercising state power.”

Who is Evgeny Prigogine?

The file photo shows Evgeny Prigozhin (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo/AP

As Wagner’s popularity grew, so did his shadow founder, Prigogine. He ran a catering company under contract with the Kremlin and was nicknamed “Putin’s chefPrigogine, who long denied any affiliation with the group, finally admitted to being its founder last year.

“Prigozin is a media mastermind and a social media mastermind,” said Katerina Stepanenko, a Russia analyst at the Institute for War Studies, a public policy research institute based in Washington, DC. Dominating Russian television and the traditional press, Prigozhin is innovative because he armed himself with a network of military correspondents, war correspondents and bloggers. ”

Prigogine is wanted by the FBI for “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” Federal law enforcement agencies Offer a prize of $250,000 From 2014 to 2018, he sought information leading to Prigogine’s arrest for allegedly overseeing the political and election interference of an Internet research agency based in St. Petersburg, Florida. The agency, of which Prigogine was the main funder, worked to sabotage the 2016 US presidential election. The FBI claimed that an election had taken place.

Russian Oligarchy Leads Mercenaries Against Ukraine


Prigozhin has criticized the Russian military commander for failing to achieve much in Ukraine. On the one hand, he positions himself as a hero.

“I know that the main differentiator from Kremlin propaganda is the level of criticism, the level of sincerity,” Stepanenko said. I know,” Stepanenko said. “And I think that’s the platform he’s really trying to move forward on, trying to establish himself as a prominent figure in Russia.”

Where else is the Wagner Group active?

Wagner first appeared in Ukraine in 2014 when soldiers in unmarked military uniforms appeared to help pro-Russian rebels illegally annex Russian territory.

In addition to sending Wagner troops to Ukraine, the Wagner Group is also active in Africa, where some countries rely on Wagner to close security gaps or support dictatorships. .

“For the most part, they provide training to local military and security forces, but they are also involved in protecting and guarding dignitaries. You can also do that,” Lutz said.

In some countries, such as the Central African Republic, Wagner trades services for near-free access to natural resources.a CBS News Survey A Russian cargo flight stopped in the country twice a week and may have been smuggling billions of dollars worth of gold into Russia, a study found.

How Russia’s Wagner Mercenary Group Uses Africa for Fundraising


In 2022, the private army was a major part of the Russian invasion, with fighters also recruited from Russian prisons and prisons. promise them a pardon To increase their numbers on the battlefield. February, Prigogine I said practice will be stopped.

How do Wagner groups behave?

As the activities of this once shadowy group became more public, so too did their tactics.

Wagner mercenaries have been accused of mass murder, rape and other atrocities across Africa and with the Russian military in Ukraine.

fighters in ukraine indicted for thousands of war crimes. When asked for comment earlier, Wagner Group dismissed the question from CBS News as rude and provocative, claiming the company did not commit any of these crimes.

Russia’s Wagner Group accused of massacres hidden from the world


In addition to their actions on the battlefield, military experts say Wagner’s recruits were either poorly or poorly equipped. Also used as cannon fodder. U.S. officials estimate that about 30,000 Wagner fighters have been killed or wounded in Ukraine so far, while the Russian advance has stalled or receded, and the future of the group and its leader Prigozhin is uncertain. have questions about.

Experts said the group could be replaced by Putin.

“I think as long as Wagner is useful in Ukraine, he will definitely be replaced by others.Wagner replacements and Prigogine replacements will start to become more of an issue, like in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s the place,” he said. Katrina Doxey is Associate Director and Associate Fellow of the Cross-Border Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“As the United States and other Western nations, including Europe, seek to eliminate Russian influence and challenge Wagner, there is a growing need to discuss viable alternatives to meeting the security and security needs of developing countries. We really need to talk about ‘development needs’.

Report contributed by Andy Triay and Cara Tabachnick.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wagner-group-who-is-yevgeny-prigozhin-russia-mercenary-private-military-company/ What is the Wagner Group? Who is Evgeny Prigozhin? What you need to know about the Russian Private Military Company

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