A current intelligence assessment suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking for new mercenary organizations to replace the infamous Wagner soldiers in Ukraine.
Since the “high-profile conflict” between the Wagner head and the Russian military persists, the British defense ministry has speculated that Russia’s senior commanders seek a new private military business they can exercise greater “control” over.
The British Ministry of Defense claims that no other Russian mercenary organization comes close in “size or fighting capability” to the Wagner soldiers. The ministry added that the Russian government presumably believes its public can “better bear” large mortality counts for mercenary organizations than for the Russian military services.
On Tuesday, the British Ministry of Defense said that Russia’s mercenary groups and private military corporations are “less restricted” than the Russian armed forces due to low pay and inefficiency.
Russia’s continuing invasion of Ukraine has seen heavy involvement from the Wagner Group, particularly in Moscow’s attempts to capture the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the millionaire chairman of the Wagner Group and a longtime friend of the Kremlin leader, was formerly known as “Putin’s chef.”
Prigozhin has been a vocal opponent of the Russian defense ministry and military leadership, charging the highest-ranking officers of treason in February.
On Sunday, Prigozhin appeared in a video sent to a Telegram channel associated with the Wagner Group, claiming that the mercenary soldiers had raised a flag above the city hall in the devastated Donetsk city of Bakhmut. Kyiv has denied reports that Russia now controls Bakhmut.
Russian and Ukrainian forces have clashed in and around the city for months. On Monday, the Center for the Study of War in Washington, DC, said that Wagner forces had “made further progress” in the city’s key districts, including the city hall.
According to the think tank, Ukrainian forces are still present in the western regions of Bakhmut.
The General Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said early on Tuesday that Ukrainian troops had repelled 32 strikes in the region during the previous 24 hours as Russia persisted in its effort to seize Bakhmut. According to the General Staff, another 530 Russian soldiers were killed in Ukraine yesterday.
On Monday, the Russian defense ministry said that up to 285 Ukrainian military soldiers had been killed in Donetsk-area combat.