Wagner Out, Redut In! New Private Military Company Rises In Russia Under The Direct Control Of Kremlin?

A new Private Military Company (PMC) is rising in Russia following the pre-eminent Wagner Group’s collapse consequent to its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin’s death in a plane crash last month.

PMC Redut is newly emerging and shows keen intent in replacing Wagner Group as “a key instrument of Kremlin’s hybrid and conventional warfare,” the Geopolitical Monitor reported on August 30.

“The death of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his right-hand man, Dmitry Utkin, can signify huge changes in the realm of private military companies (PMCs) in Russia,” the report said.

“Particularly, there is a PMC that has been emerging and, now that the chain of command in Wagner has collapsed, at least temporarily, PMC Redut could and is willing to replace Wagner as a key instrument of the Kremlin’s hybrid and conventional warfare.”

Interestingly, Redut is a mercenary group that is under the direct control of the Russian Military Intelligence. This indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer a “completely loyal” PMC to do his bidding.

On top of that, PMC Redut is also totally reliant on the Russian state institutions for its arms and ammunition, a considerable leverage that the military intelligence commanders would have while dealing with the mercenary group. However, it would still enjoy a significant degree of command-and-control autonomy.

Who Created Redut

The report noted that Redut had a long history of serving the interest of the Kremlin, apart from operating abroad to secure Russian interests. Redut was created by former Russia’s Ministry of Defense, Foreign Intelligence Service, and Special Forces employees. They have significant experience in combat operations and fighting wars previously.

Redut also attracted the attention of Russian oligarchs, who wanted its personnel to guard and secure their corporations in Russia. Along with the Wagner Group, the group has conquered the riches of practically every country they’ve visited.

“Now, with Prigozhin and Utkin gone, Redut will be the main PMC that will take over the security and military operations abroad and in Ukraine,” the report argued.

Yevgeny Prigozhin
File Image: Yevgeny Prigozhin

Redut was created solely to protect and secure the businesses of Gennady Timchenko, a former KGB officer and a Russian oligarch close to Putin. Timchenko is also known for holding enormous amounts of assets in his gas empire and is the one to most benefit from Redut’s security services.

When Prigozhin was alive, and his influence in Russia and with the Russian military was rising due to his closeness to Putin, the Russian elites decided to improve the capabilities of Redut to make it a potential competitor to the Wagner Group, the report claimed.

Redut has also been actively poaching the mercenaries from Wagner Group, one reason the two PMCs become competitors and conflict over their clashing business interests.

Furthermore, Redut, unlike Wagner, has recruited experienced fighters, who were also tasked to participate in the Kyiv offensive and assassinate the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin Actively Supporting Loyal Mercenaries

The mutiny by Prigozhin in June led to Putin deciding not to put all his eggs in the Wagner Group’s basket. Putin is now actively supporting and promoting a loyal PMC as an ally and yet another instrument of plausible deniability.

Redut: Russian Mercenaries
Redut: Russian Mercenaries

With Wagner Group in disarray, Putin is now left with no deniability plank after it was admitted that the PMC was being funded from the Russian state’s finances, said the report by Nicholas Chkhaidze, a Research Fellow at the Topchubashov Center, a think tank based in Baku.

Russian energy giant Gazprom has incorporated a PMC for operations within its competitor Redut’s sphere of influence. Redut and other PMCs, along with the mercenary Cossack Group, Putin now has “a very loyal ally and an instrument of Russia’s hybrid warfare.”

These PMCs can also serve as a tool for expanding the Kremlin’s influence in Africa. However, their lack of experience on the African continent can be problematic for the Kremlin to utilize these new PMCs fully.

Following Prigozhin’s untimely death, the Wagner Group’s commanders have lost trust in their bosses, including Andrei Troshev. The commanders have accused the bosses, including Troshev, of defecting to Redut PMC.

Troshev As Wagner Chief Is Headache For Russia, Putin

Troshev was that man Putin saw as late Prigozhin’s successor to lead the Wagner Group. This means that the Kremlin has successfully injected dissidence and suspicion among the troopers of the Wagner Group against their high-ranking officials. This will be a considerable blow to Wagner Group and its future.

Yet, Anton Yelizarov, also known as Lotus and a staunch Prigozhin loyalist, is currently leading a group opposed to Putin within the Wagner Group and is next in line to take over the PMC’s leadership.

If Yelizarov succeeds in taking over as Wagner Group’s boss, there would be much conflict with competitor Redut for influence in their spheres of work. Yelizarov may also seek revenge for the killing of Prigozhin, which could mean a general military challenge for Russia and Putin.

  • NC Bipindra is a 30-year veteran in journalism specializing in strategic affairs, geopolitics, aerospace, defense, and diplomacy. He has written extensively for the Times of India, New Indian Express, Press Trust of India, and Bloomberg News. He can be reached at ncbipindra (at) gmail.com
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