If you are a military enthusiast, chances are you would have heard of the Wagner Group – a Russian network of mercenaries operating beyond the law. The de facto private army of Vladimir Putin is often linked with far-right extremism and neo-Nazism.
The name, Wagner Group, alone inspires fear within the Russian borders.
From April 2022 to December 2022, the network has expanded significantly from 8,000 to more than 50,000 soldiers. But who would have thought the infamous Private Military Company (PMC) would end up using Pornhub ads to attract new recruits? It seems that things are getting desperate for the Russians.
“We are the most f***ing amazing private army in the world.”
A number of sources reported that the Wagner Group took to Pornhub to find new soldiers. People from Kemerovo and Volgograd shared the group’s ad campaign where a woman goes, “We are the most f***ing amazing private army in the world. We are hiring fighters from all parts of Russia. Don’t wh*ck off, apply for a job with the Wagner Group.”
The video then ends with a contact number linked to recruiters at the Wagner Group.
The recruitment video can be accessed using PH Russia, but make sure that you are not using a VPN or an ad blocker. In any case, the video is unsuitable for a younger audience and contains foul language.
In February 2023, the Wagner Group was banned from hiring prisoners from Russian colonies. Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and founder of the mercenary group, complained about the ban. Prigozhin is also a close confidant of Vladimir Putin, sometimes known as Putin’s Chef.
Western Intelligence estimates that at least 20,000 to 30,000 mercenaries from the Wagner Group are fighting in the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast. About a third of them may be dead by now. With neither side yielding to the other, the seemingly endless war continues.
The Wagner Group: A Deeper Dive
The Wagner Group (Russian: Группа Вагнера) rose to prominence during the Donbas war in Ukraine. With only a band of 250 soldiers in 2014, the Wagner Group helped the pro-Russian separatist forces from 2014 to 2015.
By March 2016, the band had grown to 1,000 soldiers.
These mercenaries have reportedly participated in civil wars in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic, and Mali – fighting with the side aligned with the Russian government. Several reports have accused Wagner operatives of war crimes, including rape, robbery, and torture of accused deserters.
Many speculate that the Russian government allows plausible deniability to hide the number of deaths and financial costs involved.
Putin’s Private Army fights for Russian interests across the globe. Understandably, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) gives the group arms needed to operate in situations where the law hinders others. Moreover, the group is also known to use MoD installations for military training.
Now, of course, you do not earn a reputation of ruthlessness without making enemies. In addition to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Islamic State, the Libyan Army, the Syrian National Army, and Ansar al-Sunna oppose the Russian group. On the other hand, the group is supported by IRGC, FACA, FADM, and FAMa.
The Wagner Group first appeared during the annexation of Crimea in 2014. According to some reports, Dmitriy Valeryevich Utkin, a Russian veteran of the Chechen Wars, leads the mercenary network. Utkin served as Lieutenant Colonel in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and earned four Orders of Courage of Russia.
Some think that Konstantin Pikalov has replaced Utkin’s command, while others hypothesize that Utkin may have already been killed. Due to the nature of the network, the truth remains obscure.
Reports suggest that Russian businessman, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has personal links with Wagnar and Utkin himself. Despite previously denying connections with the group, in September 2022, Putin’s Chef admitted that he, in fact, is the founder of the group.
“I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself, and found specialists who could help me with this. From that moment, on May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born, which later came to be called the Wagner Battalion,” claimed the Chef.