They fought in Syria, Libya and Mali, they continue the special operation in Donbass, and in recent days, by capturing Soledar, they managed to penetrate the heart of Ukraine. The men of the Wagner Group, the private military company of 61-year-old oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, are sinister. Not only in Kyiv, but above all in the Kremlin, which relies on the services of 50,000 mercenaries. Prigozhin (accused of meddling in the 2016 US elections) is a friend of Putin’s, he belongs to the Moscow Tsar’s magic circle, but he overshadows the work of Commander Gerasimov’s regular soldiers. As Soledar Prigozhin himself fell, he had his picture taken among the smoking rubble, but the Kremlin clumsily tried to erase the images and videos, which can still be seen on the Telegram channel. Putin fears his “dolphin” takeover, but he can’t help himself if he wants to win the tug-of-war with Kyiv and the West. And while the army and conscripts don’t even get the rubles a day, Wagner’s mercenaries bring home up to 7,000 euros a month. They are regular retired Russian soldiers (but for US 80% taken from prisons) between the ages of 35 and 55, required to sign a war secrets non-disclosure agreement but licensed to kill, with no rules of engagement and above all without scruples. By the end of November, they even managed to get weapons from North Korea. This was revealed by CNN, which aired satellite images of Russian train cars en route to Pyongyang. For Washington, it would be evidence of a North Korean delivery of missiles and missiles to the paramilitary organization. A senior French intelligence official said the West was “concerned that North Korea may plan to expand and supply more military equipment or support such shipments.”
Wagner has therefore become a key component of the conflict, aiming to maximize its founder’s aim and further legitimize the increasingly high-profile organisation, British Ministry of Defense Intelligence has pointed out. And to keep in mind that private military companies are officially banned in Russia (despite discussions about legislative reform) and therefore it is not clear what could happen if Wagner pushes further and further towards Kyiv. Prigozhin flexes his muscles on the battlefield but also in a diplomatic tone, and in a letter to the White House he asks the United States to explain why his paramilitary company has been classified as an international criminal organization. The letter, published on Telegram, is addressed to Strategic Communications Coordinator at the United States National Security Council, John Kirby. The White House has taken note, but is moving forward, and new sanctions will be announced next week against the group, whose criminal activities now pose a transcontinental threat. In this regard, Kirby underscored how Wagner commits “atrocities and human rights abuses around the world.”
There is a stalemate on the battlefield. In recent days, the most intense fighting has focused on three sectors. In the northeast, near Kreminna, Ukraine made small gains and defended against a Russian counterattack. In Donetsk, at Bakhmut, the Russian forces and the Wagners have assembled at Soledar, but are not advancing on Avdiivka. In the south, in the Zaporizhia region, the invaders have gained a considerable advantage. In the city of Vovchansk (Kharkiv), a woman died when a grenade thrown by Russian troops hit her house. In total there were 7 rocket attacks.