NewsThe future of Wagner Group uncertain following new reports on mercenaries

The future of Wagner Group uncertain following new reports on mercenaries

What's next for the Wagner Group? New reports about mercenaries.
What's next for the Wagner Group? New reports about mercenaries.
Images source: © Telegram

2:21 PM EST, December 3, 2023

The death of Yevgeny Prigozhin has left the future of the Wagner Group in doubt. The group appears to have lost its significance. Some mercenaries have found employment in security after returning from warfare, according to Russian media, while others have succumbed to alcohol addiction and long to return to the battlefield.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, along with other key commanders of the Wagner Group, died in a plane crash on August 23. Many experts believe that the oligarch paid the ultimate price for his criticism of the Kremlin and the attempted June rebellion, which was aimed at an invasion of Moscow.

Prigozhin's death and its impact on the Wagner Group

"The death of Prigozhin has influenced the fate of the group," states the Russian service, Wiorstka. They note that the group has lost its importance in Ukraine, with some fighters redeploying to Africa, or fighting under the Russian Ministry of Defense's command. Some have even joined the Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard) or the Chechen special forces, Achmat.

Wiorstka claims that Wagner Group mercenaries often struggle to reintegrate into regular society. Despite being pardoned for their involvement in the Ukrainian war, many companies refuse to employ them, and some remain under police surveillance.

A post from the official Wagner Group channel on Telegram suggests that mercenaries recruited by Prigozhin are no longer participating in the Ukrainian war, shifting their focus to Africa. Selected mercenaries, however, are still fighting at the front line, contracted by the Russian Ministry of Defense, Rosgvardia, or the private military company Redut.

The current member count of the Wagner Group is unclear. As of the end of October, the group, now led by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s son Pavel, announced its first recruitment wave after a pause. The group stated it will hire anyone willing to join, aged 20 to 55, with salaries ranging from 80-240 thousand rubles ($1,007-3,021), dependent on the location of their service.

"Our organization is unchanged in terms of symbols and attributes. We recruit those with combat experience, including former private military company members. The only difference is we now recruit civilians, not prisoners," a representative of the Wagner Group explained.

Many former prisoners, who gained their freedom in exchange for serving on the front line, are unwilling to return to Ukraine. Reporters from the Wiorstka service documented around 800 job advertisements from ex-Prigozhin fighters seeking employment in roles such as security services, drivers, contract soldiers, police officers, and OMON members.

Members of the Wagner Group openly admit their involvement in the war, citing the "defense of Russian interests", and even "storming houses". Some struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome and subsequently resort to drugs and alcohol.

"It's not for me here. I need a few weeks to adapt. I've become accustomed to sleeping in trenches rather than on soft beds... sheets and duvets are not for me. Furthermore, I long to return. Once my holiday is over, I will head back to Ukraine in November," former Wagner Group member Leonid Ivanenko told Wiorstka.

Close relatives of the mercenaries have revealed that some of them contemplate a return to warfare. Searching for a new income and having difficulty adjusting to a free life are common reasons cited. Svetlana and Alexandra shared their personal heart-wrenching stories about their struggling loved ones, with Alexandra adding that he started drinking heavily, resulting in delirium tremens - a severe form of alcohol withdrawal.

Reports of escalating aggression among Wagner Group members are becoming more prevalent. For instance, 'The Moscow Times' reported on the arrest of two ex-mercenaries in Dagestan on charges of kidnapping and ransom-demanding.

According to military experts, the Wagner Group had about 50,000 members at the end of 2022, with 40,000 of them having been recruited from Russian penal colonies.

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