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Sep 30, 2021
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What "Wagner’s private military company": Fighters, weapons, opportunities

“Where we are, there is peace. Justice is above all. We are against those who kill children, women and the elderly.” Good words. It is doubly because all of Europe was hysterical when their author, the private military consulting company Wagner Group (PMC Wagner), was invited to Mali. Moreover, to replace the French and European military contingents being withdrawn from this country. Stunning storytelling trick: Russian fighters are called to fight terrorism in the depths of France’s colonial backyard. Because France failed. Will the Russians cope?

Hysterical stupor – this is how one can define the reaction of France, NATO and even a couple of neutral European countries to the invitation of the Mali authorities to a Russian private military company. The invitation is simple: to advise the local army, help it rebuild into an effective mechanism for countering terrorism, and provide protection for government officials and military commanders.

Well, as everyone silently understands, the Russians themselves participate in the suppression of terrorist attacks.

In the previous text on this topic, it was told about what an angry-helpless tantrum Europe threw in response. But it remained unclear why the “Wagner Group” did not please her so much. It’s just a private company. Something like a private security company.

Or is it still not?

What are PMCs doing?

In fact, any military security company is intended to serve not as a threat, but as a help to local military contingents deployed in a particular country for the sake of fighting terrorism.

From the experience of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we know that the participation of private military companies only saves the lives of “state” soldiers. After all, PMC employees are usually charged with the most dangerous: escorting convoys through threatened areas, guarding and defending advanced facilities, capturing and holding important points and positions – until the official military arrives there with journalists and television broadcasters at the ready.

They are employees of private military companies, and they die much more often than servicemen of “official”, state army contingents or occupation forces. In Afghanistan, for example, according to fairly reliable intelligence data, at least twice as many “privateers” were killed as American soldiers. Only no one attributed them to military losses …

Often, employees of such firms are called mercenaries. In fact, this is not at all true. More precisely, this concept is used strictly in a political context. A mercenary is something disgusting; this word has corresponding negative connotations. A mercenary is one who sells his ability to kill, his military services in order to receive material rewards. At the same time, it is important that he was not a person sent for the performance of official duties.

It is clear that an employee of a military company officially acting as a legal entity is precisely the person sent by it “for the performance of official duties.” The company itself is nothing more than an ordinary (in the legal sense) contracting organization fulfilling the order of its employer. It is no coincidence that in the Anglo-Saxon world, which was the first and created private military companies at the end of the twentieth century, the term contractors / private military contractors is used for PMC employees, and not the word mercenary, translated as “mercenary”.

Of course, the line here is very thin and very much depends on which orders of which employer the military contractor will execute. But it is precisely in this regard that the Wagner Group PMC positions itself as a company that specializes

at work on armed protection of ships in the Gulf of Aden and pirate-prone areas of the Indian Ocean, escorting and protecting land convoys, employees of companies and enterprises of all forms of ownership in areas with high terrorist activity and an unstable political situation.

Necessary business, isn’t it? So why did the prospect of using a Russian company for such purposes (by the way, officially nowhere to be listed as Russian, since it is registered in Hong Kong) caused such a desperate seething in NATO? Indeed, even the amount of the contract, according to Jeune Afrique, is quite small. For the deployment of Russian instructors together with the Malian army and for the protection of high-ranking officials, the Republic of Mali will pay “Wagner” only 9.1 million euros.

What is PMC Wagner?

In Russia, mercenary activity is prohibited and punishable by long terms – from 7 to 15 years. However, in December 2018, President Vladimir Putin personally separated one from the other during an annual press conference (that is, in front of all the people):

Now about Wagner and what people are doing. We can prohibit private security activities altogether, but once we do this, I think that they will come to you with a large number of petitions demanding to protect this labor market. If this Wagner group is violating something, then the Attorney General’s Office must make a legal assessment.

So far, no negative prosecutorial assessment has been heard.

And then Vladimir Putin speaks directly about the current situation:

Now about their presence somewhere abroad. If, I repeat again, they do not violate Russian law, they have the right to work and push their business interests anywhere in the world.

Well, now the main question: what is PMC “Wagner”, since its presence in the poorest West African country begins to pound the entire collective West? Maybe then throw her to America altogether? Well, for the NATO bloc to dissolve itself as a matter of course. Or, at worst, to Estonia, so that crowds howling from fear of Estonian threats stop running around Moscow?

They tell about themselves like this:

Our organization is the result of a long transformation of all kinds of associations. The basis of these associations has always been people who were ready to give their lives in the struggle for justice. We are where lawlessness is taking place. We do not accept the oppression of the civilian population and always on the side of those who defend their rights and defend their freedom and their lives.

We call ourselves “volunteers”. We provide services only to commercial organizations and only if it does not threaten the civilian population. We are happy to protect objects from dishonest militants. We are happy to accompany the goods if they do not have a criminal origin or destination.

And one more question: can Wagner really put things in order in Mali?

Observers consulted by Constantinople on this issue believe that yes.

… We are where there is lawlessness. We do not accept the oppression of civilians and are always on the side of those who defend their rights and defend their freedom and their lives … Screenshot of the wagnera.ru website page

In the company, however, there is, as one of them noted, “a certain nervousness” – mainly due to the change of generations and the retirement of the previous personnel who came back to Donbass and Syria.

But, firstly, such situations are transient, and secondly, who said that Wagner will come to Mali alone? Under his banner, specialists of a higher rank than former airborne and special operations soldiers can enter the country. The same example of the Central African Republic shows that the Russians come not so much to fight as to build. Build the work of the local military and police against terrorist threats. Similar to what has been done since 2015 in Syria, where Russian military advisers had to literally sculpt a new local army from the old feudal militia. And the result is obvious.

What is the Wagner Group armed with?

PMC “Wagner Group”, of course, is not part of the regular Armed Forces of Russia. And its fighters are not armed as much as the army.

Let’s say they don’t have their own tanks. There are light armored vehicles based on armored personnel carriers and armored reconnaissance vehicles and cars armed with machine guns, called “carts” in the army. The “Wagnerians” are also moving in “Ural” cars.

They do not have their own S-300 and S-400. But there are fairly modern portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS).

There are no guns, but there are good mortars, hand-held means of anti-tank and anti-personnel defense. And most importantly, specialists in their application. Especially with regard to aviation and artillery spotters.

In short, this is not an army that can conduct regular military operations against full-fledged military structures. But, in fact, modern wars no longer imply massive general battles like the Kursk Bulge. But for “Stalingrad” with small, but constant battles of small universal groups – the very thing. No wonder they say that modern war is a war of special forces. Or sabotage and reconnaissance groups, as the experience of the conflict in Donbass shows. That is, in fact, such small but versatile toothy armies like PMCs.

The group’s purchases of weapons, as well as financing options, are decently classified, but observers note that PMC fighters usually do not experience difficulties with small arms (in a broad sense, including hand grenade launchers and rocket weapons) and ammunition for them. Although, as in any armed structure, a lot depends on the relationship with the rear suppliers.

One of the military experts familiar with the situation told Constantinople:

They do not have heavy weapons. The largest caliber is 14.6 mm. But they have a very powerful shooter and what goes with it. Knowledgeable people claim that they are capable of defeating an enemy battalion tactical group (BTG) with a couple of platoons.

It is clear that terrorists who are unable to put together such a BTG have little chance of holding out against the Wagnerites.

According to France Presse, the Malian authorities are ready to invite almost a thousand Russian specialists to the country. And this is no longer two platoons – two battalions. Or a regiment. And these are specialists of very diverse profiles: snipers, sappers, demineers, operators of unmanned aerial vehicles, mechanics and drivers of armored vehicles, spotters. And also sanitary instructors, engineers, signalmen, translators. There is information that the minimum salary of such specialists is from 150 thousand rubles a month, but depending on the position and qualifications, it becomes noticeably higher.

PMC “Wagner Group”, of course, is not part of the regular Armed Forces of Russia. And its fighters are not armed as much as the army. Screenshot of wagnera.ru website page

True, death itself can take the price for this money …

Compensation for the families of the victims is paid by the company.

And in general it is really a private, but the army. A private but efficient army.

And this is precisely what the French authorities and the European military are afraid of – the effectiveness of Russian military instructors, who, if necessary, turn into death machines for their opponents.

So what?

To what extent this “army” is private, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear. When a politician of this rank explains at the level of the UN General Assembly session that “the legitimate authorities of Mali have the right to independently choose partners without external pressure,” this is quite eloquent. Especially when Lavrov once again swallows the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrel like a boa constrictor of a rabbit:

“As Josep Borrell told me: you better not work in Africa at all, because Africa is our place. That’s what he said. firstly, it is offensive for the Bamako government, which has invited external partners, and secondly, it is generally forbidden to talk to anyone like that. “

A remarkable conclusion on this matter in one of the articles was given by political scientist German Kulikovsky:

“Many probably still do not realize what Russia said today through the mouth of its foreign minister. Sergei Lavrov said in plain text that now any state experiencing problems with ensuring its own security can turn to a private military company – and that will solve the problems. having suppressed the enemy with a kind word and a pistol. “

So let, as those familiar with the situation around the Wagner PMC, the informers of Constantinople say, the company has rather cool relations with the army, mostly Western hysterics are right in their fears. It is Russia that comes to Africa with Wagner. Like an Empire that has no reason to be ashamed of its interests …

Russian specialists helped the CAR government army in a matter of months to eliminate the long-term headache of local authorities in the form of a set of groups “Coalition of Patriots – for Change”. If something like this happens again in Mali, France’s political and military authority will be severely defeated. This is what Europe is afraid of – its indirect, but still deafening defeat in the war with the Russians.

In a war on neutral territory, but which they have been accustomed to consider theirs for centuries.

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