They have fought in Syria, Libya and Mali, they are keeping up the Special Operation in Donbass, and in recent days, by conquering Soledar, they have 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 scary. Not only in Kiev, but above all in the Kremlin which relies on the services of 50,000 mercenaries. Prigozhin (accused of interference in the 2016 US elections) is a friend of Putin, he is one of the magic circle of the Moscow tsar, but he is overshadowing the work of commander Gerasimov’s regular soldiers. When Soledar Prigozhin himself fell, he had himself photographed among the smoking rubble, but the Kremlin awkwardly tried to make the images and videos disappear, which can still be consulted on the Telegram channel. Putin fears a takeover by his “dolphin”, but he can’t help it if he wants to win the tug of war with Kiev and the West. And while the army and conscripts don’t even get the rubles per diem, Wagner’s mercenaries bring home up to 7,000 euros a month. They are retired regular Russian soldiers (but for the USA 80% were taken from prisons) aged between 35 and 55, obliged to sign an agreement on the non-disclosure of war secrets, but have a license to kill, without 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 broadcast satellite images of Russian railway carriages in transit towards Pyongyang. For Washington it would be proof of a North Korean delivery of rockets and missiles to the paramilitary organization. A senior French intelligence official said the West was “concerned that North Korea might plan to expand and supply more military equipment or support such deliveries.”
Wagner has therefore become a key component of the conflict and aims to maximize its founder’s objective, as well as further legitimize the increasingly high-profile organization, as British Defense Ministry intelligence points out. And to think that private military companies are officially prohibited in Russia (despite the discussion of a reform of the law) and it is therefore not clear what could happen when Wagner pushes further and further towards Kiev. Prigozhin flexes his muscles on the battlefield, but also in a diplomatic key, and in a letter addressed to the White House he asks the United States to explain why his paramilitary company has been designated as an international criminal organization. The letter, posted on Telegram, is addressed to the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council of the United States, John Kirby. The White House has taken note of this, but is continuing on its way, and new sanctions will be announced next week against the group, whose criminal activities now pose a transcontinental threat. In this regard, Kirby underlined how Wagner is committing “atrocities and abuses of human rights all over the world”.
On the battlefield, the situation is at a stalemate. In recent days the most intense fighting has concentrated in three sectors. In the north-east, near Kreminna, Ukraine made small gains and defended itself against a Russian counterattack. In Donetsk, at Bakhmut, the Russian forces and the Wagners have gathered at Soledar, but are not advancing on Avdiivka. To the south, in the Zaporizhzhia region, the invaders have gained a fair margin of advantage. In the city of Vovchansk (Kharkiv), a woman died when a grenade thrown by Russian troops hit her home. In all there were 7 missile attacks..