Why Is The Wagner Group Failing? - The War In Ukraine Is Destroying The Elite Mercenary Group Of Putin
Vladimir Putin's army is embarrassed by the fact that the cruel Wagner Group is being called "heroes" while military troops are being criticized and replaced. The announcement comes as Russian forces struggle to significantly advance in the Donbass region due to significant losses in both personnel and equipment.
According to the Kyiv Post, sources in Ukraine claim that after 145 days of hostilities, Russia has lost 38,450 servicemen.
Due to the desperate efforts the Kremlin is making, rumors are now spreading that Russia is using prisoners as a source of immigration for the Wagner Group. But why is the Wagner Group failing? The Putin-affiliated Elite Mercenary Group.
COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/why-is-the-wagner-group-failing/ by William Willis on 2022-10-07T03:35:16.981Z
Wagner's troops have long garnered international fame. The cracks are starting to show in this supposedly elite force, though, as Putin's "special military operation" in Ukraine falls apart at the seams and more than 200,000 Russians flee to nearby countries in response to the announcement of a "partial mobilization" for desperately needed conscripts.
Wagner's mission, global reach, and reputation have grown since its establishment in 2014.
Its fighters have fought in Syria since the Russian invasion there in 2014, as well as in Sudan, Libya, Mozambique, Mali, and the Central African Republic. Analysts generally believe that this private military group is sanctioned by the Kremlin.
The Wagner private soldiers have strengthened Moscow's international interests and military resources, which are already overstretched fighting a war in Syria to assist the Assad government.
They are known in Russia as a trustworthy and valued force. Several news sources have shown that their deployments have often been key to Russia's control over valuable resources like Sudanese gold and Syrian oil.
They look like US Special Forces because their recruitment videos show heavy weapons and even helicopters, which are modern tools.
Marat Gabidullin, a former Wagner commander who oversaw 95 mercenaries in Syria, told the media, "I am confident that there would be no question of the success that the Russian army has achieved thus far if Russia had not deployed mercenary forces on such a large scale."
As the Kremlin's war strategy has unraveled, Gabidullin, in contact with former allies now engaged in combat in Ukraine, claimed that Russia's employment of mercenaries has increased.
Oleksiy Reznikov, the defense minister of Ukraine, told foreign media that Wagner forces were being used in Ukraine's "most difficult and essential tasks" and that they had been crucial to Russia's successes in Mariupol and Kherson.
Numerous newspaper calls for comment received no response from the Kremlin.
Wagner's fame and appeal have only grown over time, and the Kremlin's long-standing denials of its existence and ties to the Russian government have helped the group hide how it really works and what it is capable of.
Wagner, like Russia, is actually having difficulties in Ukraine, as seen in the video testimony of the group's own mercenary fighters.
What is the Wagner Group and what is it doing in Ukraine?
Fighting that has lasted for more than seven months has shown serious flaws in Russia's military operations in Ukraine.
Even compared to Putin's original big goals for the campaign, Russia's small victories have been very expensive. Frontline troops have been killed off and many have lost both men and important experience.
Combat experience is one of two considerations. According to former Wagner leader Gabidullin, one thing, aside from money distinguishes mercenaries from regular Russian forces.
He left the group in 2019 and has since authored a biography about his time there.
He told the media, "The backbone of these units was always made up of very experienced people who had already been through multiple conflicts."
After the 2014 Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, Gabidullin, a junior lieutenant with an airborne unit during the final years of the Soviet Union, rejoined the military as a Wagner recruit.
He claimed that several important Wagner members, like himself, may have previously participated in both Syria and Ukraine, obtaining crucial battle expertise that is uncommon among most regular Russian military personnel.
"Compared to the army, they have more substantial, relevant experience. He claimed that the army consists of inexperienced young troops who were made to sign a contract.
It is for this reason that Russia values such paramilitary formations in Ukraine, of which Wagner is just one.
There is "a very huge lie, a very big deception about a strong Russian force," according to Gabidullin, who also asserts that "the Russian army cannot handle [the battle] without mercenaries."
According to Andrii Yusov, a representative for Ukraine's defense intelligence agency who has been keeping an eye on the Wagner organization in Ukraine, at least 5,000 mercenaries connected to the gang are currently working with Russian forces in Ukraine.
This number was confirmed by a French intelligence source who said that some Wagner fighters had left Africa to help the group's operations in Ukraine.
According to Ukraine's military ministry, the Kremlin has become more reliant on Wagner fighters as attack forces.
They have carried a burden of casualties that have been politically contentious for Putin in Russia since they were hidden from official Russian death tolls and made accessible for dubious actions.
In September, a top US defense official said, "Wagner is losing a lot of troops in Ukraine, especially and not surprisingly among young and inexperienced troops."
Gabidullin says that the use of Wagner forces is okay because of a simple equation: "Russian peace for American money."
The monthly pay for the mercenaries is up to $5,000.
According to a senior Ukrainian defense source and the information that Ukrainian authorities have gathered about Wagner since the start of the war, Wagner fighters have even been paid bonuses in US dollars for destroying Ukrainian tanks or battalions.
According to the UK's Ministry of Defense, Wagner fighters have been sent to some frontline areas and are working almost like regular army units.
This is a big change from their previous limited and specialized tasks in Ukraine.
Wagner is increasingly being utilized, according to Yusov, to fill in gaps in the Russian front line.
A senior US defense official also corroborated this, adding that Wagner is utilized on numerous front lines in contrast to Chechen fighters, who, for example, are concentrated on the Russian attack aimed at Bakhmut.
The need to provide Wagner's forces with ammunition, food, and support for prolonged operations has resulted in severe logistical issues, according to him, all the while Ukraine has intensified its attacks on Russia's supplies.
The Ukrainian military ministry leaked bodycam footage from Wagner fighters in August that supposedly depicts mercenaries griping about not having helmets and body protection.
In another video, a fighter complains about being told to attack Ukrainian positions when his unit is out of ammunition.
Battlefield casualties have also reduced the size of Wagner's ranks. They have resorted to unusually open recruitment as a result.
In Russia, billboards have appeared soliciting new members for Wagner. Their tagline, "Orchestra 'W' Awaits You," references Wagner's previous moniker as the "orchestra" and is adorned with a phone number and an image of combatants wearing camouflage.
The group's recruitment efforts are casting a wider net than in the past, changing from secrecy.
Even Putin supporter Yevgeny Prigozhin, who had spent years attempting to dissociate himself from the mercenary outfit through repeated denials and even dragging Russian media outlets investigating him to court, ultimately acknowledged his role as Wagner's head in late September.
Wagner's requests for recruiters to get in touch have also been disseminated online and via social media.
One recruiter who was contacted by American media offered a salary of "at least 240,000 rubles" (about $4,000) each month with a minimum four-month deployment.
A big part of the letter from the recruiter was a list of illnesses that kept people from joining, such as cancer, hepatitis C, and drug abuse.
When contacted by a foreign journalist, a Wagner recruiter revealed one unexpected admission about recruits in contrast to its reputation as a military elite organization: no prior military experience was required.
The message ended with the secret word "Morgan," which candidates were told to enter at the entrance to the Wagner facility in Krasnodar, Russia.
In September, a video that seemed to show Prigozhin recruiting inmates from Russian prisons for Wagner surfaced.
His plan was to offer forgiveness in exchange for six months of fighting to help Russia's clumsy invasion of Ukraine.
A few months ago, this move would have been unthinkable for a private military company that was once thought to be one of the Kremlin's most professional forces.
The ex-Wagner commander, Gabidullin, called the appeal "an act of desperation."
Prigozhin's supposed recruitment drive in jails is similar to larger Russian efforts to enlist the country's prison population in combat.
These efforts pay recruits' families tens of thousands of dollars in death benefits and give recruits monthly incomes in the thousands of dollars.
That's worrying for both their Ukrainian rivals and fellow Wagner allies.
According to Ukrainian Prosecutor Yuriy Belousov, "Wagner is ready to send anyone, just anyone." "There are no longer any standards for professionalism."
Belousov, who is working on Ukrainian investigations into potential Russian war crimes, worries that the scope of war crimes may grow as a result of this permissive recruiting.
Although it's a novel approach, Gabidullin claimed that having a criminal record hadn't prevented anyone from working with Wagner.
He says he was in prison for three years for murder, and he has told many newspapers and news websites about famous Wagner commanders who joined the group after their prison terms were up.
Wagner's battles in Ukraine have sparked a larger issue: resentment among its members. That's crucial for a group that depends on the appeal of its pay and jobs.
According to Ukrainian army intelligence spokesman Yusov, in August, Ukrainian intelligence agencies saw a "general decrease in morale and the psychological state" of Wagner forces through intercepted phone calls.
He has noticed a similar pattern among Russian soldiers in general.
He says that another sign of demoralization is the drop in the number of "really professional troops" who are willing to fight with Wagner on their own.
Ex-commander Gabidullin claimed that this demoralization was caused by their discontent "with the general management of the fighting: inability to make effective judgments, to arrange battles."
He claims to speak to his former comrades on a nearly daily basis.
That ignorance was too much for one mercenary who sought assistance from Gabidullin.
"He gave me a call and announced, 'That's it, I'm leaving. I'm not participating in this any longer, Gabidullin said to the press.
Life as a Russian mercenary also doesn't hold the same appeal it once did because Russia's chances of winning Ukraine or even claiming a successful ending appear slim.
The money "might not be worth it anymore," Ukrainian prosecutor Belousov suggested.
The harsh reality of Wagner's battle is evident in one of the numerous recordings coming from the frontlines in Ukraine.
The tape was supposedly released to the media to highlight the group's operations.
One clip shows a dead Wagner mercenary lying almost comfortably with his left hand holding the dark soil.
He is surrounded by a burning battlefield, dead soldiers, and the scorching remains of their armored vehicles. Shots occasionally sizzle through the haze.
The soldier's colleague, who was stripped of his shirt by the combat that killed him, exclaims, "I'm sorry, bro, I'm sorry." If they shoot us, we'll lie close to him, so let's leave now.