Putin looking for another mercenary group to replace Wagner in Ukraine

Putin looking for another mercenary group to replace Wagner in Ukraine


April 4, 2023 | 12:35 p.m

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is looking for another private army to take over from the Wagner mercenary group in Ukraine after repeated clashes with its outspoken founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, British officials said.

The UK Ministry of Defense said in its latest intelligence update released on Tuesday that Russia “is likely to seek to sponsor and develop alternative private military companies. [PMC]” to replace Prigozhin’s private army.

Prigozhin has been openly feuding and criticizing the Russian military for months, even accusing them of “treason” for failing to supply his fighters with enough ammunition.

“The Russian military leadership is likely to want a PMC replacement over which it has more control,” British analysts said.

But finding another mercenary group could prove a tall order.

According to the update, no other known Russian private army “currently approaches Wagner’s size or combat power.”

Russia’s Wagner Group may be on the way out as the military is reportedly looking for another private military that would be more compliant.ZUMAPRESS.com

Prigozhin has stepped up efforts to recruit tens of thousands of new fighters to replenish Wagner’s ranks, which had been severely depleted by months of bloody fighting to capture the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

British analysts said Russia apparently recognizes the value of using mercenary groups in Ukraine “because they are less constrained by the limited pay levels and inefficiencies that hamper the effectiveness of the regular army”.

There may also be another, more cynical reason why the Kremlin prefers mercenaries; thousands of prisoners have been recruited from Russian prisons to fight in Ukraine.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has clashed with Russia’s military establishment and accused leaders of “treason”. AP Vladimir Putin’s regime is said to be interested in mercenaries fighting in Ukraine to spare more regular army soldiers. SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

“The Russian leadership probably believes there are heavy casualties among them [mercenaries] it will be better tolerated by Russian society compared to regular military losses,” concludes the Ministry of Defense bulletin.

The Institute for the Study of War reported in a recent update on the war that Wagner’s private force has lost perhaps close to half of its 50,000 fighters in the battle for Bakhmut, which has been known as a “meat grinder”.

Ian Stubbs, senior military adviser at the UK mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said last week that 30,000 Russian military and Wagner personnel have been killed or wounded in the Bakhmut area since July.

Prigozhin, left, has been a staunch supporter of the president, right.AP

On Sunday, Prigozhin said in a video address that his forces had taken the city and raised a flag over his town hall.

Kiev scoffed at Prigozhin’s claims, saying enemy soldiers had raised a flag over “some kind of toilet” and that Ukrainian forces had repulsed Russian attacks.

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