The Wagner Group: Rising Russian force

The mercenary force is growing in strength in Africa and is critical to Putin’s war in Ukraine. Now its boss appears to harbour political ambitions

The rise of the Wagner Group into the world’s most influential and arguably most dangerous mercenary organisation says a great deal about the condition of today’s Russia. PHOTO: REUTERS
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The war in Ukraine is seen mainly as a confrontation between two national militaries: the invading Russian armed forces and the defending Ukrainian troops, both backed and supplied by international allies.

Yet there is one shadowy but significant actor in the Ukraine war that does not fit this definition. It is the Wagner Group, a supposedly private military company (PMC) that now has on its payroll an army of some 40,000 “hired guns” – many former criminals – to fight inside Ukraine on Russia’s behalf.

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