This week, Ukraine has made public the data of hundreds of persons, mainly Russian citizens, whom they believe to have been involved in mercenarism.
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) continues to check up on private military company Wagner’s ties with the Kremlin. On their website, the agency published the data of foreign passports of Russian mercenaries who were allegedly spotted in armed conflicts in African countries and earlier in Donbas.
“Studying the passport data of over 1,000 members of PMC Wagner shows that most of the documents of Russian mercenaries were drawn up in Moscow by the department that also issued cover documents for Russia’s GRU officers ‘Petrov’ and Boshirov’, committers of the chemical attack in Salisbury.”
At that, the numbers of several hundred foreign passports, as well as the documents of the ‘Salisbury tourists’, differ only in the last two figures.
In addition, the Ukrainian special service gave to the world the names of 149 militants, citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries who, according to SBU information, took part in suppressing recent protests in Sudan. The SBU claims that Wagner mercenaries were carried to Africa by Russian MoD planes; the aviation services were paid by M-Invest company linked to businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin aka Putin’s Chef, an alleged sponsor of militants. The Russian Foreign Ministry refuted reports about Russia’s participation in Sudanese protests. At the same time, the Kremlin may be protecting its assets with the help of such private military companies.
“Most of them are used to protect oil refineries in Syria, now in Venezuela. Also, a certain number of mercenaries performed combat missions in Sudan and the Central African Republic. The question is the Putin clan’s personal interests, namely the protection of their assets in these countries,” Dzyanis Ivashyn, a journalist and co-founder of InformNapalm OSINT platform, said.
The activity of PMC Wagner began in Syria in 2013, when mercenaries went to guard the pipeline, but in fact, they took part in the civil war on the side of Bashar al-Assad. Then, after returning home, some militants were convicted of mercenarism. However, the Kremlin liked the idea of having its own loyal PMCs. It turns out it is hardly possible to prove the state’s connection with private armies.
“They can use mercenaries for their military and political purposes, e.g. involving in conflicts, protecting some regimes, suppressing protests – as was the case with Sudan. Now they are supporting Maduro, but still reiterate that ‘our military are not there’,” Alyaksandra Bahuslauskaya, an expert in international law, stressed.
Until international law settles the status of PMCs, the Kremlin will continue to use them in the international arena. According to Reuters, about 400 ‘Wagnerites’ have been recently sent to Venezuela to protect president Nicolas Maduro.
Denis Shpigov/MS, belsat.eu
Photos courtesy of SBU, InformNapalm