Russia’s Wagner Group of Mercenaries
1,000 mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, are being deployed to the eastern part of Ukraine. For the past eight years, this group has been active in Syria, Ukraine, and African countries. They have been accused of committing human rights abuses and war crimes.
Formation of the group
Dmitri Utkin, a former Russian army officer has been said to be the founder of this group and gave it the name Wagner after his former call-sign. He is a Chechen wars veteran, a lieutenant colonel, and a former special forces officer with the GRU, the military intelligence agency of Russia. This group first witnessed action in 2014 during Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The mercenaries of this group supported the pro-Russian militias that were fighting for control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
Recruitment to the Wagner Group
Wagner Group mostly recruits all those army veterans who need to pay off their debts. They mostly belong to rural areas where money-making opportunities are less.
Funding of the group
Reports say that the military intelligence agency of Russia, the GRU, secretly oversees and funds the Wagner Group. The training base of this group is also said to be in Mol’kino, southern Russia just next to a Russian army base.
Activities of the Wagner Group
In 2015 this group started operating in Syria and fought alongside the pro-government forces and used to guard the oilfields. Since 2016, they have been active in Libya and supported the forces who are loyal to General Khalifa Haftar. In 2017, the group went to the Central African Republic (CAR) to guard the diamond mines in the region and they have also deployed in Sudan to guard the gold mines. In 2021, the Mali government asked the Wagner Group to provide security against the Islamic militant groups terrorizing the region.
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