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27th May 2022 (6 Topics)

The Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, now in focus in Ukraine


Two alleged Wagner Group fighters from Belarus have been accused of murdering civilians near Kyiv, making them the first international mercenaries to face war crimes charges in Ukraine.


Wagner Group:

  • Founded in early 2014, the Wagner Group is a private military and security company believed to be used by the Kremlin to carry out its strategic objectives, even though Moscow has denied such claims.
  • A 2017 Bloomberg report estimated that the group has as many as 6,000 mercenaries.
  • As per American think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Wagner Group is privately owned but its management and operations are “deeply intertwined” with the Russian military and intelligence
  • Wagner Group has recruited, trained and sent private military operatives to conflict zones around the world to fuel violence, loot natural resources and intimidate civilians in violation of international law, including international human rights law.
  • Name of Group: The group reportedly took its name from the pseudo name of its leader, Dmitry Utkin, a retired Russian military officer.
  • Despite the Kremlin’s denial of any ties to Wagner, Mr. Utkin has been photographed next to Mr. Putin.

Where has the Wagner Group operated?

  • It has been active in Libya since 2016, supporting the forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar.
  • It's thought that up to 1,000 Wagner mercenaries took part in Haftar's advance on the official government in Tripoli in 2019.
  • In 2017, the Wagner Group was invited into the Central African Republic (CAR) to guard diamond mines.
  • It is also reported to be working in Sudan, guarding gold mines.
  • Most recently, the Wagner Group has been invited in by the government of Mali, in West Africa, to provide security against Islamic militant groups.
  • Its arrival in 2021 influenced the decision by France to pull its troops out of the country.

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