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The Wagner Files

David Patrikarakos
UnHerd, Apr. 26, 2023

“Things have not gone well for Russia in Ukraine, which is why Surovikin was replaced, and Prigozhin has repeatedly publicly criticised the Ministry of Defence for its performance — he ridiculed the regular army, claiming his own Wagner units were far superior.”
The Wagner Group might be a gang of hired murderers, but it is also a well-oiled machine: peel back its layers of barbarity and you’ll find a slick private military company with plans to expand its influence throughout the world. Experts, including US Congress, have long argued that Wagner is controlled by the Russian special services, specifically the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence, commonly known as the GRU.

But this is wrong. I have been investigating Wagner for six months, and both sources in Ukraine and documents shown to me by the Dossier Center, an investigative project set up by Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky, tell a very different story. The company has never been under the GRU; nor does it report to the Ministry of Defence, with which it now has an increasingly fractious relationship, or any law enforcement or government agencies. In fact, unlike other Russian private or quasi-private military companies, such as Redut, it is funded and run by a single individual: Yevgeny Prigozhin, who in turn answers only to one man: Vladimir Putin.

Wagner, then, is vital to understanding the Kremlin’s emerging global strategy. Its mercenaries are not only butchering in Ukraine, but are also being deployed across Africa as the Kremlin seeks to hoover up the continent’s resources. As violence strafes Sudan, reports, backed up by my contacts on the ground, claim that Wagner supplied Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces with surface-to-air missiles in its battle for control of the state against Sudanese leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The group is also helping to prop up the regime in Syria and is busy meddling in Baltic states as well.  … [To read the full article, click here]

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