The Wagner Group’s Route to Infamy

Visitors wearing military camouflage stand at the entrance of the ‘PMC Wagner Centre’, associated with the founder of the Wagner private military group (PMC) Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block on the National Unity Day, in Saint Petersburg, on November 4, 2022. (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA / AFP) (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT:  The privately-owned Russian soldier-for-hire group known as the Wagner Group once operated in the shadows but in the past year, it has become an important part of Russia’s war machine in Ukraine. The group’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is a trusted Kremlin ally but recent comments criticizing Russian defense ministry officials are raising questions about just how much influence the group and it’s owner, actually wield.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has added to the notoriety and mystique of this private military company (PMC).  Recently, though, long-simmering tensions between Wagner and Russia’s mainline military have erupted into the open.  In an audio message published by his own press service, Prigozhin took Russian military officials to task for withholding weapons and ammunition that he says are desperately needed by Wagner forces on the battlefield.

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