This article investigates the Russian government's reliance on commercial soldiers in the hybrid war efforts against Ukraine until the invasion in February 2022. Russian private military companies (PMCs), such as RUSCORP and the Wagner group, have already been active in Syria and Africa over the last years, signalling the resurgence of Russian machinations on the world stage. They also played a key part in the annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as the struggles on Ukraine’s Eastern border areas around Luhansk and Donbas. The article shows that PMCs have become an integral part of the Kremlin’s approach to foreign policy. Unlike Western PMCs, which can arguably augment their ability to provide effective public security, Russian PMCs are used to construct insecurities to the point of fighting hybrid surrogate wars. While they fulfil the same outcome for the Russian state to be strengthened through the public-private security arrangements, their function is radically different: (1) providing deniability without the deployment of Russian troops; (2) providing military ambiguity, and (3) thus, furthering the Kremlin’s foreign policy objectives. The significance of the deployment of these PMCs is that they are an extension of the Russian security apparatus, closely linked to the FSB, GRU and SVR, and with similar command and control structures, staffed by former members of the Russian security services.
|Number of pages||21|
|Journal||Central European Journal of International and Security Studies|
|Early online date||8 Sep 2022|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2022|
- Private Military Companies
- surrogate warfare
- Hybrid Warfare