Canada

One day I plan my own mercenary group

By Caleb Davis and Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Ramzan Kadyrov, President Vladimir Putin’s ally who runs Chechnya, said on Sunday he plans to one day set up his own private military company in the style of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagnerian mercenary group.

The rise of Wagner and other mercenary forces outside of traditional Russian military command structures has raised concerns among Western diplomats that such groups could one day pose a threat to stability in Russia.

In a post on Telegram, Kadyrov said Wagner, who fought alongside Russian troops in Ukraine, had achieved “impressive results” and that private military companies were a necessity.

“We can say with confidence that Wagner has proven himself in military terms and put an end to discussions about whether such private military companies are needed or not,” said Kadyrov, who has governed the Chechen Republic since 2007.

“When my service to the state is over, I seriously plan to compete with our dear brother Yevgeny Prigozhin and start a private military company. I think everything will work out,” said Kadyrov, 46.

Kadyrov and Prigozhin run Ukraine’s armed forces largely independently of Russia’s military command and are staunch allies of Putin, but have also publicly opposed the military leadership.

The Wagner group played an increasingly prominent role in the Russian war in Ukraine, leading a month-long assault on the Donetsk region town of Bakhmut.

Kadyrov, the son of former Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in a 2004 bombing in Grozny, has forged a tacit alliance with Prigozhin, fueling mutual criticism of Russia’s military leaders and calling for a more vigorous pursuit of the conflict.

Prigozhin, who spent the last decade of the Soviet Union in prison for robbery and fraud, was an ally of Putin for years.

His catering group snagged government contracts, earning him the nickname “Putin’s chef,” while he employed Wagnerian mercenaries to fight alongside Russian soldiers in Syria and in conflicts across Africa to advance Russia’s geopolitical interests.

After years of denials, he admitted his ties to Wagner last year and said he interfered in US elections.

Mounting evidence suggests that the Kremlin has sought to curb Prigozhin’s excessive political influence by ordering him to stop publicly criticizing the Defense Ministry and advising state media to stop naming him or Wagner.

Kadyrov said such groups are “both necessary and necessary”.

(Writing by Caleb Davis; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and David Holmes)

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