Where is the group based?
The group is not registered as a legal entity anywhere in the world. Mercenaries are illegal under Russian law. Their shadowy existence allows Russia to downplay its battlefield casualties and distance itself from atrocities committed by Wagner fighters, observers say.
“It operates in a situation of opacity, there’s a real lack of transparency and that’s the whole point,” said Sorcha MacLeod, chair of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries, which has scrutinized the group. Their structure allows them to have plausible deniability and to create “distance between the Russian state and the group,” she said.
Why are the mercenaries in Ukraine?
With Russia suffering heavy losses, according to U.S. intelligence, Mr. Putin is sending battle-hardened reinforcements with experience into Ukraine, according to experts, including Jeremy Fleming, the director of Britain’s electronic surveillance agency.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
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Putin’s advisers. U.S. intelligence suggests that President Vladimir V. Putin has been misinformed by his advisers about the Russian military’s struggles in Ukraine. The intelligence shows what appears to be growing tension between Mr. Putin and the Ministry of Defense, U.S. officials said.
“These soldiers are likely to be used as cannon fodder to try to limit Russian military losses,” he has said.
Where do they recruit?
Some of the fighters appeared to have been recruited from Syria and Libya, the Pentagon’s spokesman, John F. Kirby, has said. He said Russia seemed to be turning to them to bolster its troops in the east of Ukraine because the group already had experience fighting in the Donbas region for the past eight years.