Prigozhin continued efforts to legitimize his Wagner Group as a parastatal armed force – ISW

The military casualty ID tag (aka "dog tag") taken from a killed Russian "Wagner" private military company solder in Ukraine. Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

The military casualty ID tag (aka "dog tag") taken from a killed Russian "Wagner" private military company solder in Ukraine. Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine 

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Editor’s Note

In its December 18 Russian offensive campaign assessment, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War reports that Putin’s ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, the financier of Russia’s Wagner Group, continued efforts to legitimize his military company as a “parastatal armed force and increase his own power base by lobbying for increased state benefits for Wagner Group personnel who fought in Ukraine.”

Prigozhin complained on December 18 that the local St. Petersburg authorities refused to bury a Wagner Group fighter in burial grounds for participants of the “special operation” and instead intend to relegate private military company (PMC) fighters to a separate section, which Prigozhin called humiliating.

US senators call to designate Russian Wagner Group as a terrorist organization

Prigozhin released a letter appealing to Russian State Duma Defense Committee Chairperson Andrey Kartapolov to extend combat veteran status to Wagner Group fighters. Some Russian milbloggers expressed support for this measure, claiming that any Russian citizen who fights and dies in Ukraine deserves to be buried with full military honors. Prigozhin’s appeal does not include fighters of other PMCs, however.

Prigozhin previously expressed his support for a similar measure on November 8 when the State Duma considered and passed a bill extending combat veteran status to Russian military volunteers. Prigozhin has notably feuded with Russian regional authorities in Belgorod Oblast and St. Petersburg, as ISW has previously reported.

Prigozhin’s bid for increased recognition comes as reports of systematic executions within Wagner forces emerge, suggesting that Wagner leadership is willing to go to great lengths to preserve the Wagner Group’s image as a highly disciplined force.

Russia’s Wagner Group financier Prigozhin continues to rely on ineffective convicts to staff his forces – ISW

Russian opposition outlet The Insider reported on December 16 that Wagner forces routinely execute deserters and those who refuse to fight, especially those recruited from penal colonies. The Insider reported that Wagner has its own internal security forces to conduct the executions and that one commanderwho commanded executed POW Yevgeny Nuzhinpersonally witnessed several executions. Prigozhin previously expressed public support for Nuzhin’s execution, as ISW has previously reported.

Such reports also indicate that Wagner Group forces struggle with morale and discipline issues among new recruits similar to those of conventional Russian forces but combat it with harsh punishments rather than the obfuscation and attempts to appease dissatisfied recruits that characterize the Russian MoD’s general approach.

Read also:

Wagner Group treats convict-recruits as expendable to conserve experienced commanders – British intel

HIMARS destroyed base of Russian Wagner mercenaries in Luhansk oblast’s occupied Kadiivka

Bakhmut direction is tough because of Wagner PMC “competition” with regular Russian army – Ukrainian servicewoman

 

 

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