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What is the Wagner Group, led by guy implicated of mutiny in Russia

The PMC (Private Military Company) Wagner Center logo design on the brand-new structure. PMC Wagner Center opened in St. Petersburg.

Maksim Konstantinov | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Long at chances with Russia’s military leaders in the war in Ukraine, Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin took his fight to a brand-new level Friday when he leveled allegations that his fighters had actually been struck and pledging vengeance.

The hazard, made over his authorities Telegram channel, stimulated what seemed a crisis in Russia.

The nation’s security service FSB gotten in touch with Prigozhin’s own Wagner Group personal army to decline orders and apprehend him, and it opened a criminal examination for “organizing an armed rebellion, the prosecutor general’s office said.

Russian Lieutenant General Vladimir Alekseev on video from broadcaster RBK called it a stab in the back, calling it “a coup d’état.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been informed, and “required procedures are being taken,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

What is the Wagner Group?

Called by Russia a “personal military business” the Wagner Group is called a proxy force by U.S. officials and others, while others label it a mercenary group.

It was founded in 2014, and is owned by Prigozhin, a 61-year-old who has been previously known as “Putin’s chef” for catering state events with his catering business.

In December, the U.S. believed that the Wagner Group had an estimated 50,000 personnel inside Ukraine — around 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts from Russian prisons, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Russia has denied the involvement of the Wagner Group in its official military operations, but the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies says it is often directly connected to the Russian state. It played a role in Russia’s operations in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015, it said.

“Instead of utilizing the Russian story, according to which Wagner is a personal military business, Wagner need to be deemed a traditional proxy company,” it said.

Worldwide efforts

The Wagner Group has also been involved in other parts of the world, including Africa.

The Wagner Group has operated in the civil conflict in Libya, and Russia sent it military equipment including fighter aircraft and armored vehicles, so that Russia could get a foothold in the country, the U.S. Department of Defense said in 2020.

Wagner Group was also sent to Central African Republic in its civil war, where the group was accused of executing civilians, attacking U.N. peacekeepers and targeting predominantly Muslim communities.

Senior Western diplomats have said that the Wagner Group took control of a gold mine there. Human Rights Watch said in a report that suspected Wagner Group forces have committed atrocities, including executing unarmed men.

Russian mercenary group recruits prisoners to fight in Ukraine

The U.S. in January designated the Wagner Group a transnational criminal organization. In Africa, it destabilized countries committed “extensive human rights abuses and obtaining natural deposits from their individuals,” the U.S. Treasury Department said then in imposing sanctions.

The war in Ukraine has helped the Wagner Group grow in influence, Kirby, the U.S. National Security Council spokesman, has said.

“His impact is broadening. Wagner’s self-reliance from the Russian Defense Ministry has, is just increased and raised throughout the 10 months of this war,” Kirby said at the December briefing.

The Russian military has been relying on Wagner fighters in Ukraine, and in some cases, Russia’s military officials have been subordinate to the commands of the Wagner Group, he said.

Prigozhin vows retaliation

Prigozhin has accused Russia’s military leadership of incompetence in Ukraine, but on Friday he publicly accused Russia’s military leadership of striking his forces. He claimed there was a missile attack at its rear camps.

Prigozhin said, without providing evidence, that Russia’s military leadership was responsible for the deaths of 2,000 fighters.

“Those who ruined our lads, who ruined the lives of lots of 10s of countless Russian soldiers, will be penalized. I ask that nobody deal resistance,” Prigozhin said in a series of audio messages on his official Telegram channel.

Ukraine kicks off much-anticipated offensive

Russia’s FSB security service responded by starting a criminal case against him for what it said was a call for an armed rebellion.

The FSB said that “his actions are a ‘stab in the back’ of Russian servicemen” and called on Wagner fighters to refuse orders and take Prigozhin into custody. Russia denies Prigozhin’s claims.

Security was increased in Moscow, Russian state news agency TASS reported, and video distributed by the Reuters news agency showed military vehicles near Russia’s Parliament early Saturday local time.

Prigozhin denied it was an armed rebellion, but called it “a march of justice.”

He claimed that his forces entered Russia, and that “Right now we are getting in Rostov,” describing a city in the south of Russia.

Blake

News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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