Wagner Group’s Evolution Post Prigozhin’s Demise

In late September and early October, significant developments occurred regarding the Wagner Group and its future. On September 27, a press officer for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) confirmed the presence of Wagner mercenaries in the war zone of Ukraine, with 8,000 personnel deployed to Belarus.

Some of these mercenaries have since been deployed to Africa, and about 500 men have signed contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) to participate in the war against Ukraine. Yevlash noted that the remnants of the Wagner Group sent to Ukraine are not a game-changer and do not pose any serious threat to the AFU.

Russian sources state that members of the Wagner Group are now operating near Bakhmut and approaching Kharkiv and Zaporizhian. At the Valdai Summit, Vladimir Putin implicitly mentioned Russia’s potential usage of Wagner fighters in upcoming operations, stating that thousands of fighters from Wagner have signed contracts with the armed forces. The Wagner Group is expected to remain in use by the Russian state for its shadow missions abroad, according to recent developments.

On September 28, Putin personally met with Andrey Troshev, one of the founders of the Wagner Group, and Yunus-bek Yevkurov, the Russian Deputy Defense Minister. Troshev has always been in charge of the “military side” of the Wagner Group, having taken part in wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Syria. His role in the Wagner Group is likely to be to facilitate ties and engagement between the mercenary formation and the MOD.

Deputy Defence Minister Yunus-bek Yevkurov is expected to be responsible for the Wagner Group’s foreign ties with Russia’s external partners and clients. Yevkurov’s recent tour of the Middle East North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa highlights Russia’s strategic interest in collaboration with these countries in military-technical, economic, and atomic industries.

Putin announced Troshev’s commitment to forming voluntary formations for combat tasks in a special military operation zone. Putin offered Wagner commanders the chance to continue their service under Troshev’s leadership, coordinating communication between the Group and the MOD. Prigozhin, who opposed the arrangement, died mysteriously, and Russian authorities have not confirmed this.

Russian military expert Colonel Victor Litovkin has revealed that the Wagner Group, officially known as “PMC Wagner,” is being restructured. The group will be directly subordinated to the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and could be divided into three parts, each headed by a separate commander. Troshev is expected to be charged with operations in Ukraine, while Anton Elizarov and Pavel Prigozhin could be deployed in Africa or the MENA region.

Wagner Group has become a de-facto part of the MOD, performing delicate missions for the Russian state. Its new leadership consists of a former regular military with significant military expertise, and its operational area is unlikely to shrink, with the African continent likely remaining its primary focus.

The European Parliament on Russian private military companies’ activities since the Syrian Civil War. His project, “War by Other Means,” informed the United Nations General Assembly report on mercenaries’ use as human rights violations and impeded self-determination rights.

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