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UK intel: Wagner group sets up new Russia-approved base after leadership change

Wagner Group establishes state-approved headquarters to expand volunteer forces supporting Russia’s Ukraine campaign, and global influence goals after a leadership change, per UK intelligence.
Wagner group's crimes in Ukraine
The Wagner group’s logo. Photo: Denis Morgunov

In its latest intelligence update, the UK Defense Ministry says the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries create a new National Guard-affiliated headquarters to train volunteers for further Ukraine conflict and spread Russian power worldwide under amended oversight.

The Wagner Group, a Russian state-funded entity, has been instrumental in executing military operations across Ukraine, Syria, Libya, and Mali, aligning with Russia’s strategic interests. It has engaged in activities that provide Russia with plausible deniability for its actions abroad. Wagner has faced numerous accusations of war crimes, such as murder, torture, and rape, highlighting its controversial role in furthering Moscow’s geopolitical agenda.

According to the Ministry, it is highly probable that the Russian state sanctioned the establishment of Wagner’s new base and believes that by integrating Wagner into Rosgvardiya, it has effectively neutralized any threat Wagner could present to the security of Russia’s regime.

The Ministry wrote:

  • The new field commander of the Russian private military company Wagner, Anton “Lotos” Yelizarov, has made his first video statement since the death of Wagner’s former owner Yevgeny Prigozhin and the former field commander Dmitry “Wagner” Utkin in an August 2023 plane crash.
  • In his video, Yelizarov detailed the location of Wagner’s new headquarters at Kazachi Lageri “Cossack Camps”, almost certainly in Rostov, southern Russia, co-located with the barracks of Russia’s 150th Motor Rifle Division. Yelizarov further claimed that Wagner’s new base would also house the Russian National Guard’s (Rosgvardiya) new Volunteer Corps, implicitly confirming Wagner’s subordination to Rosgvardiya. Rosgvardiya is likely preparing a new Volunteer Corps formation of experienced Wagner personnel to reinforce Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and expand Russian influence in Africa.
  • The Russian state highly likely authorised the construction of Wagner’s new base and highly likely perceives that by subordinating Wagner to Rosgvardiya, it has removed any potential threat Wagner might pose to Russia’s regime security.

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