July 15, 2024

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has pointed out that the Wagner Group Private Military Company (PMC) may pose a threat to Ukraine if it is restored to serve under the Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard) or the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Source: ISW

Details: In the report, experts note that the status of the Wagner Group remains unclear against a backdrop of reports of negotiations regarding the so-called PMC’s future cooperation with the Russian government.

Wagner is spread across several countries, including Belarus, the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali, and there is no unified leader of the group.

Analysts recall that on 29 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly hugged Andrey Troshev, the former commander of the Wagner Group and now an employee of the Ministry of Defence, and said that they discussed how Troshev would be involved in the formation of new volunteer battalions that would perform combat tasks mainly in Ukraine.

Some members of the Wagner Group reacted negatively to Putin’s hugs with Troshev and have now nominated an alternative leader.

A well-known Wagner-linked Telegram channel announced on 1 October that Pavel Prigozhin, Evgeny Prigozhin’s 25-year-old son, was to take over “command” of the Wagner Group and that Pavel Prigozhin was negotiating with Rosgvardia to return the PMC to fighting in Ukraine.

A source connected to Wagner said that the mercenaries would not be required to sign contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defence and that the Wagner Group would retain its name, symbols, ideology, commanders, management and existing standard operating principles.

At the same time, a Russian insider source claimed that Pavel Prigozhin is not an independent player and is under the influence of Mikhail Vatanin, the head of Wagner’s Security Service.

Another source close to Wagner said that Rosgvardia head Viktor Zolotov is considering the possibility of PMC elements joining Rosgvardia as a separate unit, although Pavel Prigozhin’s camp did not comment specifically on how exactly their part of Wagner could cooperate with Rosgvardia.

“The MoD would have to provide the equipment and supplies for a large, reconstituted force under Rosgvardia in any case, since Rosgvardia does not have the logistical infrastructure to do so on its own,” the review says.

Analysts also add that their assessment of the prospects for the recovery of the Wagner Group has changed. In their opinion, the PMC could pose a threat if it successfully re-established itself as a large unitary organisation under the leadership of the Rosgvardia, the Russian Ministry of Defence or similar organisations.

The experts reiterated: “ISW previously assessed that disjointed Wagner Group elements were unlikely to pose a serious military threat to Ukraine without bringing the full suite of effectiveness Wagner had as a unitary organisation under Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s and Dmitry Utkin’s consolidated leadership..”

They added: ” This initial assessment will be invalidated if the Wagner Group reestablishes itself as a coherent and large formation under the Russian government with effective centralised leadership.”

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