Posts Tagged Ukraine

Syria: Nine Russian Contractors From PMC Wagner Killed

Rest in peace to the fallen…

In my last post on Russian contractors, I mentioned briefly about a PMSC called PMC Wagner or OSM. The Wall Street Journal is the first large media group that I know of that has talked about this company in a story, and I thought I would share that here. I want to keep a record of this stuff so that it can be a reference for how the Russian market is developing in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

So why do I continue to focus on the Russian market? Primarily because if the Russian PMSC’s start delving more into offensive operations, then that could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the industry. I like to follow the offensive aspects of PMSC use because that will have impact on the future of this industry. Meaning as more and more private companies from other countries get into the game of war fighting, and actually winning wars like what Executive Outcomes was able to do, then that would move the marker of what is acceptable and possible within this industry.

It will give countries an option other than using and paying for a standing military, or for countries who lack those kinds of war fighting and winning capabilities within their own military.

One country might view another country’s PMSC industry as a strategic advantage. Something that they want in their tool kit of force. Especially if PMSC’s start winning wars and battles, and especially if a country is flush with cash but lacks manpower. A country that is in a fight for their survival (like Assad’s Syria) will do everything it can to win, and really could care less where that manpower comes from at the end of the day. Enter the PMSC market.

Back to the article below. The quote that caught my attention was this one:

An official close to the Russian Defense Ministry said that the group had numbered around 1,000. Unlike Western security contractors, who are typically armed with only light weapons, members of the group were operating T-90 tanks and howitzers.

Contractors operating T-90 tanks and howitzers? lol That is some serious weaponry and I would love to hear more about what exactly these guys were doing with this stuff. EO used tanks and APC’s in their wars pretty effectively, and it is interesting to hear about private companies actually operating this type of equipment. Imagine that training course? lol

The other interesting quote below is the leader of PMC Wagner/OSM, came from the Slavonic Corps. The Slavonic Corps was also given tanks to use, but that was a big surprise for the contractors involved apparently.  So will PMC Wagner pick up where the Slavonic Corps left off, and do better?  We will see. –Matt

Edit: 12/19/2015- The guy in the photo below was an entertainer that was working at Latakia Air Base at the time and not some soldier or contractor according to my readership. There is a question on how many contractors were killed as well. One of my readers said that an article from Reuters was written last October in regards to this incident and they only mentioned three Russians that were killed. Also, the 1,000 contractor headcount is not realistic according to the readership. That is a pretty big footprint for a contractor force so I would imagine that number is a lot lower.

Edit: 03/10/2016- War is Boring wrote an interesting article that talked more about Russia and it’s use of PMSC’s. This quote on PMC Wagner is what I wanted to put out there for the record:

It now seems the TchVK Wagner is building on the Slavonic Corps’ misfortune. Indeed, many members of this mysterious organization, as well as its leader — a former major in the Spetsnaz and ex-employee of Moran Security — were also members of the luckless 2013 expedition in Syria. According to the journalist Denis Korotkov, author of numerous articles on the TchKV Wagner, these contractors are active in Syria and entertain “close links with the Russian army.”

“TchVK Wagner is not a PMC, but a paramilitary organization with no official status,” Korotkov insists. “It is obvious that this task force could not exist without serious support from high-ranking government officials.”

Oleg Krinitsyn, head of the Russian PMC RSB Group, says he agrees with that assessment.

According to Korotkov, neither Moran Security nor RSB Group are active in eastern Ukraine — and this for legal reasons and in order to preserve their contracts abroad. Furthermore it seems the Russian army in Syria does not make use of these two PMCs. For sure, these companies do employ droves of former FSB agents, and one can easily imagine that they offer piecemeal services to the Russian state while on duty abroad, especially in Africa.

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Up to Nine Russian Contractors Die in Syria, Experts Say
Incident shows how the country is using private groups to avoid deploying uniform troops, they say
By THOMAS GROVE
Dec. 18, 2015
As many as nine Russian contractors died in October when a mortar round hit their base in western Syria, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The incident, experts say, shows how Russia has used contractors to perform quasi-military tasks, avoiding the political repercussions of deploying uniformed troops—and steering clear of the domestic concerns that come with the deaths of soldiers.
The Russian government hasn’t acknowledged the deaths, described to The Wall Street Journal by three people.
“It’s one of Russia’s first attempts at trying to create a private military company like what was Blackwater,” said one of them, Ivan Konovalov, director of a Moscow-based security think tank and a consultant to lawmakers who are trying to create the legal basis for such military companies, which now fall in a legal gray zone.
Blackwater, which provided armed security, logistics and other support to U.S. government agencies, became emblematic of Washington’s reliance on private-sector firms to advance foreign-policy aims in conflict zones.
Unlike Blackwater, though, the Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t publicly acknowledged their existence. It isn’t clear whether the men’s role went beyond protecting government installations to direct involvement in fighting.
Founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, Blackwater was involved in a series of controversial incidents, including a deadly 2007 shootout in Iraq that ultimately led to its reorganization and rebranding as Academi and to Mr. Prince’s exit from the business. Blackwater said it was carrying out dangerous work on behalf the U.S. government in a way that was more cost-effective than using uniformed personnel. Four former guards were convicted after the shooting, but said they shot in self defense.
The Russians killed in Syria belonged to a private group called OSM, according to Denis Korotkov, a former security adviser and journalist. The group is known informally as Wagner, after the nom de guerre of its leader, a former military intelligence officer who has served in several conflicts since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Syria wasn’t the group’s first deployment. According to all three people, the group operated in eastern Ukraine, where its members were charged with protecting factories and pro-Russian rebel leaders.
In Ukraine, the Kremlin employed “hybrid warfare”—a term national-security experts use to describe the use of irregular forces, propaganda campaigns, economic coercion and sometimes direct military action.
Groups with connections to Russian military and intelligence, and whose activities can be denied, have operated in the conflict zones that flared up since the fall of the Soviet Union. Wagner’s group however has emerged as one of the most prominent both in terms of the size and missions, according to Mr. Konovalov.
Based in the southern Russian region of Krasnodar, the group deployed to Syria after a contract was drawn up with Syrian authorities, Mr. Konovalov said.

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Russia: So Where Are Russian PMSC’s Working In The World?

This is a great graphic from InformNapalm, along with a link to the article. I have heard about a few of these companies, but this is by far the most comprehensive collection that I have seen posted. There was quite a bit of interest the last time I posted about Russian PMSC’s here and here, and we will see if anyone wants to pop up and add to this stuff.

The story about PMC Vagner (or Wagner) is interesting. I actually heard some information about them from other sources and they are definitely mixing it up in Syria. Here is a quote from the article that perked me up.

For example, ‘Vagner’ private military company (incorporated in Argentina) poses itself as a closed militarized structure; its training camp is located in the village of Molkino in Krasnodar krai, at the training site of the 10th special forces brigade of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation. With high probability we can assume that we observe here the mentioned above mechanism for the creation of voluntary units of Russian GRU’s reservists.

Everything is organized as in a Special Forces: arrival, interviewing, testing, quarantine, intensive special training, examination and sending on a mission. At the same time the main priority is to keep the information in secret.

According to closed sources, the main task is to prepare the ‘Vagner’s fighters for the war in Syria and send them there. This version is confirmed by the data from numerous printed materials.

Obviously, these men are the backbone of ground operations’ troops and they fight under the guise of Assad’s volunteers. Detachments of ‘vacationers’ are sent to Syria from Primorsko-Akhtarsky military airfield, which is located in 200 km from the training center.

According to confidential information, there are hundreds of killed fighters in the ranks of ‘Vagner’ PMC. This information is partially confirmed by the data in open sources:

24.09.2015 – 10 coffins arrived to Sevastopol from Syria;

20.10.2015 – Vessel with bodies of 26 killed marines from 810th brigade arrived to Sevastopol;

27.10.2015 – A coffin with a soldier died in Syria arrived to Sevastopol.

In the article they also posted a video and links to these various companies. Check it out. –Matt

 

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Russia: PMSC’s Operating In A Legal Grey Area

This is a good little report on the status of Russian PMSC’s, with a mention of the Slavonic Corps debacle. I have written in the past about Russia’s use of PMSC’s and their efforts on legalizing it. But as the report mentions, Russia also benefits from keeping their industry in the legal grey area of war fighting. Especially if you see how ‘volunteers’ (who are paid by the way) are being used in places like the Ukraine. It is not too much of  a stretch for Russia to just outright contract out various aspects of their war there.

While he says his fighters are “volunteers” rather than mercenaries, they are paid salaries: from $1,000 per month for a low-ranking enlisted man to $2,000 to $4,000 for officers. Yefimov did not answer the reporter’s question about who pays the salaries.

Ukraine’s government says more than 10,000 Russian mercenaries form the bulk of the Russian proxy forces that the Kremlin has used to sponsor the creation of the separatist “people’s republics” in parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk provinces. Many fighters are motivated by the propaganda of the Kremlin-controlled media, Yefimov says.

“Our press and television present the dramatic facts. The Russian people cannot tolerate the terror that the fascists have staged there [in Ukraine]. Killing women, children and the elderly. Most of those who go [to fight] are sensitive and empathetic; they want to help. This is especially true for people from 40 to 60 years of age, who were brought up under Soviet traditions.” Other fighters go because they miss the adrenaline of war or to earn money, he said.

Although for using Russian PMSC’s on the international market, they will have to have some protections. Compared to the west’s market of force, they have a lot of catching up to do.

With that said, one area that interests me is Assad’s manpower issues in Syria. Will we see more Slavonic Corps type contracts pop up where Russian PMSC’s answer the manpower call in Syria? We will see. Russian PMSC’s are already doing the maritime security game, and operating in the middle east protecting oil company facilities and their employees.

The one company mentioned in this video was RSB. The key thing the president mentioned was the legalities of operating as a PMSC. That Russian law has it’s roots from the Byzantine era, and that whatever is not explicitly banned, is legal. So operating outside of the country as a PMSC, is not explicitly banned in his view. Interesting comment, although as you can see with the Slavonic Corps, you can still be thrown in prison for such activities–based on the whims of their government.

He also mentioned he could raise an army of  1,000 plus troops, which is typical talk from a company CEO. If you have the attention of journalists, you always want to promote capability when you can. lol

Also, they cut the youtube video a little short. For the full video, go here. –Matt

 

RSB contractor.

RSB contractor performing maritime security.

 

 

Russia’s private military firms operate in legal grey area

July 28, 2015

Since the conflict in Ukraine began, Kiev and the West have accused Russians of participating on a massive scale. The Kremlin denies sending professional troops to Ukraine and insists the Russian citizens there are volunteers who have signed up to help the separatists. Increasingly, experts are pointing to the presence of a third category of fighters: the employees of private military companies, or PMCs.

While the private security industry is well established in the United States – with globally recognised brands such as Academi (formerly Blackwater) – Russia has never legalised their use. That could be about to change, however, as Russian PMCs certainly do exist and are now active internationally.

Programme prepared by Patrick Lovett and Elom Marcel Toble.

By Gulliver CRAGG , Ksenia BOLCHAKOVA

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Russia: Their Many Uses Of ‘Private Military Companies’…

Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin on Wednesday supported the idea of private defense companies that would provide protection services and military training programs abroad without the participation of the Russian state.
The idea was proposed by A Just Russia deputy Alexei Mitrofanov during Putin’s report to the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.
Putin said that was “an instrument in the pursuit of national interests without the direct participation of the state.” “I believe that it should be considered, thought over,” he said. –11/04/2012 Riavososti

This is another post I wanted to get out there in regards to what has happened in the industry. The events in the Ukraine have put some more light on Russia’s use of PMSC’s, and also puts some light on how PMSC’s could be used as a propaganda tool.

Specifically, ACADEMI was mentioned in multiple propaganda pieces as supporting the Kiev government with training and ‘mercenary’ services. It was even mentioned that there were 400 elite US commandos from this company, fighting Russian separatists. lol

I am laughing because there would have been an avalanche of chatter on all of the forums and Facebook/Linkedin pages if this was true. You don’t just fire up a 400 man army like this and it not get out amongst this community. Especially if it paid well.

Even ACADEMI had to post a press releases to counter this ridiculous claim. The State Dept, who issues the licenses necessary for PMSC’s to go overseas and do training had to beat down this idiotic propaganda as well in statements. Really, I don’t think anyone in the west believed this stupid story.

But unfortunately, their propaganda efforts were able to reach those that are not savvy online or care to believe otherwise. All war is deception as Sun Tzu would say… Russia was absolutely implementing a social media campaign as a part of their battle plan to take Crimea and justify occupying parts of the Ukraine. That effort is still ongoing and we will see what eventually happens with the Ukraine.

Also expect attacks on Gazprom pipelines, and that reality will require protective services by Gazprom’s massive security apparatus.

The point is, that social media and war is standard business now, and you see combatants all over the world using social media and propaganda to prepare their battlefields and psyche out their opponents. It works if done properly, and just ask the cartels in Mexico or ISIS in Iraq how it is working out for them.

The other part of this story that is not being talked about is Russia’s focus on firing up their own private military industry. Something that can rival the west’s PMSC industry. This is very interesting to me, because it is another market to study and watch. It is also a huge money maker–private security in Russia is said to be a 7 billion dollar market.

Although there has always been a PMSC sector in Russia, and especially after the end of the Cold War. What is interesting though is that I keep picking up on hints here and there of PMSC’s getting support at some very high levels in Russia. Probably because it is a force that can be used by men in power to do things that a standing military could not do. (please note the quote by Putin up top)

For example, a company in the country of Transnistria could be contacted and asked to recruit folks to be ‘pro-Russian separatists’ in the Ukraine. To work with Russian special forces that are also posing as Russian separatists, wear ski masks to mask their identity, and fuel the grass roots movement and divisions within the country using violence. Sounds farfetched? Well that is exactly what some are speculating, and it would make sense to me, purely base off of what the leaders of Russia have said in the past.

Below I have posted recent news on efforts to further legitimize PMSC’s in Russia. To give them the legal authority necessary to operate, and to even use in other countries. This is not new and I posted stuff about Russia’s intent back in 2012. David Isenberg wrote a post on it as well. EA games did a pretty good series on PMSC’s in Russia.

Although I should note that Russia has had some recent embarrassing incidents with the use of PMSC’s in other countries. For example, The Slavonic Corps and their actions in Syria come to mind. Perhaps Russia’s recent legislation and licensing will help to control future ‘Slavonic Corps’ from happening?  Who knows, but I do know that Russia is continuing to explore the many uses of private military companies and we will see where that takes them. –Matt

 

Russian Special Forces operating in the Ukraine and assisting separatists. They are referred to as ‘The Little Green Men’. Weapon is a 9K115 Metis ATGM.

 

Russian ‘Blackwater’? MPs call for local security industry loophole
June 27, 2014
By Iliya Pitalev
Nationalist party LDPR deputies have drafted a law on private military companies to the regional legislature of North Russia’s Pskov. If approved, the draft will be forwarded to the federal parliament.
The authors of the document claim it was born out of the necessity for capable and specialized commercial organizations to enforce national interests in cases when international politics or law prevent the government from using regular military forces.
“The crisis in Ukraine in which the provisionary government in Kiev is actively using Western military contractors in its interests, demonstrate the acute necessity for similar institutions in Russia,” reads the explanatory note published by the Pskov regional legislature.
According to the lawmakers, there are over 450 private military contractors in the world, with 70 percent of the services provided by the US and British companies. These firms solve many foreign policy problems for Western governments, and at the same time bring additional taxes to their national economies.
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Cool Stuff: Asgarda–Women In The Ukraine Create A Modern Day Tribe Of Amazons

Crazy stuff here. But it also shows how bad things are in that region when it comes to gender oppression. For these women to run to the mountains and form such a highly defensive warrior tribe indicates to me that obviously there are some issues there. Now the question I have is when will these modern day Amazons make the jump from swords and scythes, to firearms and modern combat arms training? Interesting stuff. –Matt

 

In the Ukraine, a country where females are victims of sexual trafficking and gender oppression, a new tribe of empowered women is emerging. Calling themselves the “Asgarda”, the women seek complete autonomy from men. Residing in the Carpathian Mountains, the tribe is comprised of 150 women of varying ages, primarily students, led by 30 year-old Katerina Tarnouska. Reviving the tribal traditions of the Scythian Amazons of ancient Greek mythology, the Asgarda train in martial arts, taught by former Soviet karate master, Volodymyr Stepanovytch, and learn life skills and sciences in order to become ideal women. Little physical documentation existed on the tribe, until recently, when renowned French photographer, Guillaume Herbaut, met the Asgarda back in 2004 in the midst of the Orange Revolution.
Story here.
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Fight club
Imagine the Girl Guides with racier uniforms accessorised with pickaxes, chains and scythes and what have you got? Answer: a women’s youth movement sweeping Ukraine
By Sally Howard
12 Sep 2010
It’s 5.30am and dawn is breaking in the Carpathian Mountains. Morning mist garlands the mountaintops as the sun rises over a view that’s as old as the hills: headscarved babushkas push carts of hay by hand, white-tailed eagles circle drowsily above and the air is scented by the ancient spruces of Europe’s last stretch of virgin forest. Only the rumble of cargo trains driving west to Hungary disturbs this bucolic scene. That and the peals of three bikini-clad girls as they jump into the frigid Dniester, the fast-flowing river that courses south across the length of eastern Ukraine to the Black Sea.

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Libya: Ukraine Seeks Libya ‘Mercenaries’ Release

Very interesting. So are these guys mercenaries or just oil workers? If anyone has anything to add to this story, feel free to do so in the comments. –Matt

 

Ukraine seeks Libya ‘mercenaries’ release
10 April 2012
Ukraine has said it is doing all it can to secure the extradition from Libya of 19 of its citizens accused of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries.
The group, which also includes three Belarusians and two Russians, was formally charged on Monday, eight months after they were detained.
The 24 accused insist they were working as oil industry contractors.
One of the Russians has told the BBC that their release could already have been secured through diplomacy.
In a phone interview, Aleksandr Shadrov, 59, told the BBC Russian Service that they had all been in Libya purely to service oil rigging equipment and that a good lawyer would “easily refute the case”.
They deny the charges of preparing land-to-air missile launchers to shoot down planes taking part in the Nato-led mission to protect Libyan civilians.
The Russian embassy in Libya has told the BBC that it is doing all it can to secure the release of its citizens. Belarus says its three citizens had signed contracts to operate civil facilities in Libya and it is co-ordinating its efforts with the Russian and Ukrainian embassies.
The Ukrainian authorities said negotiations between Kiev and the Libyan authorities were already under way. A spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry said a possible extradition of its 19 citizens was on the table, even though the two countries had no formal treaty.

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