Ukraine-Russia War

The Wagner Group: Russia’s Shadow Army

In recent years, a shadowy organization known as the Wagner Group has been making headlines in international news. But who are they and what do they do?

This general view shows a Russian tank in the city of Irpin, west of Kyiv, on March 4, 2022. – The UN Human Rights Council on March 4, 2022, overwhelmingly voted to create a top-level investigation into violations committed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, United Nations figures showed on March 4, 2022. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Wagner Group, also known as PMC Wagner or Russian Wagner, is a private military company (PMC) that operates in various countries, including Syria and Africa. While the group officially denies any ties to the Russian government, many experts believe that they are in fact a state-sponsored organization.

The group is believed to be linked to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prigozhin, who has been dubbed “Putin’s chef” due to his catering business being a major source of his wealth, was sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2018 for his alleged involvement in the Wagner Group’s activities.

The Wagner Group has been accused of a variety of illicit activities, including mercenary work, arms trafficking, and even election interference. In Syria, the group has been known to fight on the side of the Syrian government and its allies, including pro-government militias and Russian forces.

The group’s involvement in Syria, and the fact that they are believed to have been involved in the fighting in Ukraine, has led experts to label them as a “shadow army” for the Russian government. This allows Russia to deny official involvement in conflicts while still achieving its goals.

It’s known that the group has been involved in several African countries, including Sudan, CAR, Mozambique, and Chad, and it’s believed that they are involved in various operations of logistics, training, and protection of economic interest, mostly of Russian origin.

Critics argue that the use of PMCs like the Wagner Group undermines the rule of law and the principles of international humanitarian law. The fact that these groups operate in a legal gray area makes it difficult to hold them accountable for their actions.