“Nothing has changed”
Wagner rebels apparently continue to recruit fighters
Updated on 07/01/2023 – 09:26 Reading time: 3 min.
After the failed Wagner uprising, the Russian leadership tried to disband the mercenary group. Apparently, they continue to recruit as before.
Despite the bloody uprising by the Russian military company Wagner, there are apparently no signs of the organization being dissolved. According to research by the British broadcaster BBC, the recruitment agencies of the Russian mercenary group are still active. BBC journalists had called Wagner offices in several Russian cities using a Russian phone number and pretended to be interested. They were told that business was going on as usual.
At the weekend, Wagner fighters under their leader Yevgeny Prigoschin took the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and then sent a military column to Moscow. However, Prigozhin broke off the march in front of Moscow. The Kremlin is now giving the mercenaries a choice: either join the Russian army, go to their families, or go into exile in Belarus.
This message does not seem to have reached Wagner, as the BBC’s covert inquiries show: A Wagner woman from the “Viking Sportclub” in the Arctic city of Murmansk confirmed to the broadcaster that she was still recruiting fighters for Ukraine.
“Nothing has stopped, we continue to recruit”
“We recruit, yes. If anyone [in den Ukraine-Krieg] If he wants to go, all he has to do is call me and we’ll make an appointment,” the woman told the BBC. Wagner’s recruitment offices are usually located in martial arts clubs or boxing clubs.
Other Wagner recruiters also told the BBC that new members sign contracts with the mercenary group itself and not with the Russian Defense Ministry, as originally intended by the Kremlin.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with the Defense Ministry,” said a man at the Sparta sports club in Volgograd in eastern Russia. “Nothing has stopped, we continue to recruit,” he is quoted as saying by the BBC.
Recruitment attempts also in Kazakhstan?
The conflict between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense is considered the trigger for last weekend’s revolt. The Russian government wanted to force the Wagner mercenaries by July 1 to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense and thus become regular armed forces. The decree amounted to a de facto smashing of the mercenary group, which presumably led to the revolt of Wagner boss Prigozhin.
Meanwhile, the recruitment attempts on the Internet and closer abroad are probably going on. The authorities in Kazakhstan have warned their citizens against covert recruitment attempts by both the Russian army and the Wagner mercenary group. In the Kostanay region on the border with Russia, both organizations tried to recruit soldiers online for the war in Ukraine, according to local prosecutors.
Participation in armed conflicts abroad carries a penalty of up to ten years, the public prosecutor emphasized. There have been repeated reports in local media of the deaths of Kazakh citizens in fighting in Ukraine.
Is the great purge coming?
How things will continue after the revolt is unclear. The Russian government made it possible for Wagner boss Prigozhin to go into exile in Belarus, mediated by the ruler there, Alexander Lukashenko. According to experts, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin is ailing.
The uprising, which according to experts developed into an attempted coup with the “March on Moscow,” may have been supported by high-ranking military officials. Rumors of a cleanup have been circulating for days. Top general Sergei Surovikin, who is considered close to Prigozhin, is said to have already been arrested.