They’re considered among the most ruthless mercenaries in the world. And as Russia’s conventional army has reeled under pressure from a more motivated Ukrainian army, the Wagner Group has been enlisted by the Kremlin to try to turn the tide.
The Wagner Group is the creation of Yegveny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, who was known in the 2000s as “Putin’s chef”.
For many years Putin would not acknowledge Wagner, or even utter its name.
In recent years, however, he’s mentioned it, acknowledging something that Russia analysts knew. Likewise, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Prigozhin has become more open about the group – even openly visiting prisons in Russia to recruit criminals to join Wagner and try to wrest the military momentum from Ukraine.