They are mercenaries known for their ferocity and determination. They appear in a conflict, like ghosts, and carry out massacres – only to disappear again. During the invasion of Ukraine, when Putin realised that conscripts were being slaughtered by the Kiev army, he sent them to defend the Donbass and attack Mariupol, hoping to cut off Ukraine’s access to the sea. In the confusion of conflicting data on the war on the Black Sea shore, the only thing certain is that the mercenaries are there, and they are fighting on the side of the Russians.
Nevertheless, ‘the private military company Wagner’ (‘the Wagner Group’) is illegal in Russia. It is never mentioned in the national media and the vast majority of Russians know nothing about it. The foreign media call them ‘ghost soldiers’ (or ‘green men’ or ‘Wagnerians’) – they are the military ghosts, with no clear identification within the official armed forces, who fight for money (they earn more than $2,000 per month plus allowances for combat missions) and, of Vladimir Putin’s regime, are officially only clients. His mercenaries are fighting in Ukraine, and many of them have died in the Donbass, Syria, Libya, Sudan and other countries.
Russian officials deny the existence of PMC (private military company) Wagner and obstruct (or silence forever) journalists writing and investigating the group. The Kremlin only admits that there are Russian citizens privately participating in combat operations abroad, or that they were simply there because they were filming a documentary, as happened in the Central African Republic.
It was first mentioned in 2015, and the following year, Dmitriy Utkin (its founder) was seen at a special reception in the Kremlin for military personnel who have distinguished themselves for special heroism (he holds four Russian Orders of Courage). Since June 2017, Utkin and Wagner’s group have been the subject of US sanctions, equated with a terrorist group. In December 2021, the European Union also promulgated sanctions against the Wagner Group and, in March 2022, the group also ended up on Japan’s ‘blacklist’, promulgated after the invasion of Ukraine.
In reality, PMC Wagner is an agency of the GRU (the Military Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation), but at the same time it receives private donations and goes into action where regular Russian troops cannot be deployed. The list of its tasks is extensive: the annihilation of regional warlords considered troublesome, the conduct of wars on behalf of a Putin client or ally. Wagner’s PMC units number, at different times and according to various sources, between 1350 and 2000 people. According to Bundeswehr sources, the total number of mercenaries reaches 2,500, but with the possibility of increasing the number when the situation requires it.
The recruitment of mercenaries takes place all over Russia. Many of those killed in Syria had already fought in eastern Ukraine. This is confirmed by relatives and acquaintances of the dead mercenaries. The recruitment of private army personnel does not appear to have been limited to Russia, but was also conducted among residents of separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine. According to the SBU (the heir to the KGB), in October 2017 40 fighters with Ukrainian passports were serving in PMC Wagner. The organisation is reportedly registered as a private company in Argentina and also has offices in St Petersburg and Hong Kong.
Group photo of Wagner Group units active in Ukraine
The call sign of “Wagner” was chosen by Lieutenant-Colonel Dmitriy Utkin, born in 1970 in the Sverdlovsk region – an officer by profession, until 2013 he was commander of the 700th Special Forces Unit of the GRU, stationed in Pechory, Pskov region. After retiring in 2013, he worked for Moran Security Group (MSG), a company specialising in ship surveillance in piracy-prone areas, such as Somalia and Nigeria. When the MSG chiefs organised the Slavic Corps in 2013 and sent it to Syria to defend Bashar al-Assad, Utkin participated in that expedition. From 2014, he left for the Crimean annexation war, where he became head of a unit called PMC Wagner after the nickname of its commander.
According to press reports, Utkin is fascinated by National Socialism and therefore chose the name ‘Wagner’ in honour of Adolf Hitler’s favourite composer. The group has a training base, called ‘polygon Molkino’, located 40 km from Krasnodar, adjacent to the 10th Special Forces Brigade of the GRU. Among other known bases is one in Rostov-on-Don, from which aircraft depart for Syria. In 2016, it emerged that the Russian Ministry of Defence has allocated more than 1 billion roubles over the past three years to equip military units in that area.
In 2019, as PMC Wagner’s presence in Africa was growing, a planned trip by Utkin to Rwanda was reportedly cancelled at the last minute: he was to travel with Valery Zakharov, Russian security advisor to the President of the Central African Republic. Subsequently, Colonel Konstantin Aleksandrovich Pikalov (a.k.a. ‘Mazay’) was to be put in charge of Wagner’s African operations, after Utkin had been blacklisted by the Americans. At least until 2007, Pikalov served as an officer at military unit 99795, located in the village of Storozhevo, near St Petersburg: an experimental unit of the Ministry of Defence tasked, in part, with ‘determining the effects of radioactive rays on living organisms’.
After retirement, Pikalov continued to live at the base until at least 2012 and ran a private investigation agency. In 2016, he ran for municipal elections in the military base district on behalf of Just Russia, a pro-Kremlin party. The Central Election Committee, for unknown reasons, banned his candidature. This could be the result of a criminal record, as his name is on a Central Bank blacklist as a ‘money laundering suspect’. Pikalov’s current criminal file is empty, which may mean that suspicions did not result in actual criminal charges, or that the documents were deleted.
Between 2014 and 2017, Pikalov travelled several times to destinations close to the Ukrainian border, sometimes together with members of Wagner, including Vadim Gusev, the supervisor of the Slavonic Corps action in Syria, and Nikolay Khamatkoev, a known Wagner agent. The thematic forums are full of requests from people who would like to enlist in PMC Wagner, far exceeding the number of vacancies. In Russia, even irrespective of the war, there is growing misery, salaries are low, the boys have nowhere to go: ‘There is a queue of people to get into Molkino’.
A chapel to commemorate the Wagnerians killed in Syria, built at the side of the Don motorway
In 2018, in Molkino, a chapel was built in honour of Wagner’s fighters, presumably by one of Prigozhin’s companies: Megalain OOO St. Petersburg (which also built for the Ministry of Defence). In the area, surrounded by a fence, a monument was erected to a man in an unmarked military uniform, in which the commander of PMC Wagner, Dmitriy Utkin, is recognisable. Similar sculptures have been erected in Luhansk in Ukraine and in the Syrian city of Hama.
Although Utkin is the iconic PMC Wagner man, experts suggest that his role is more that of a field commander: Wagner’s mercenaries are integrated into a chain of command under the control of the Kremlin (GRU). Some of the PMCs’ funding sources are secret expenditure items of the Russian Ministry of Defence and businessman Yevgeniy Prigozhin (although he denies any connection), a man close to Vladimir Putin.
Who is behind the Wagner Group?
November 2011: Yevgeniy Prigozhin (left) with Vladimir Putin at a banquet
His is one of the greatest success stories of Putin’s Russia: a twice-convicted criminal becomes a billionaire as one of the largest state contractors. He profits from everything from schoolchildren in Moscow and St Petersburg to soldiers and EMERCOM personnel. He gets money for the maintenance of barracks and new military constructions. He owns the famous ‘troll factories’ in St. Petersburg and his influencers publish thousands of pro-Putin posts on social networks in different languages every day. He owns luxury real estate, a 115-foot yacht and a private jet.
We are talking about Evgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, also known as ‘Putin’s Chef’, because the two met when the former was a restaurateur in St. Petersburg and the president one of his clients. Thanks to contracts secured by Putin, Prigozhin has built a business empire. He denies any connection with PMC Wagner, but there is only circumstantial evidence of his involvement. In December 2021, he asked a European court to remove the text justifying his inclusion on EU sanctions lists as a sponsor of PMC Wagner. He has an eventful past. According to the Russian media, he spent nine years in prison for fraud and robbery in the 1980s. He then went into the catering business, opened ‘New Island’ and eventually a half-dozen luxury restaurants in St Petersburg and Moscow. Putin turned to him for the catering of his parties, including those with President Bush and Jacques Chirac. Prigozhin later obtained lucrative catering contracts for schools.
In 2010, Putin opened his new food factory. In 2011, however, parents started to protest against the factory, which supplied students with food full of preservatives. Prigozhin won school catering contracts worth more than 10 billion roubles, or $177 million. But by that time he was already a Kremlin insider with plenty of state contracts to follow (more than 750 between 2010 and 2016 alone)  and a growing business empire. His career peaked in 2012, when he was awarded a two-year $1.6 billion contract to supply more than 90 per cent of Russian soldiers’ meals.
Prigozhin is on the US sanctions list because of his ties to separatists in eastern Ukraine. In December 2016, the US Treasury Department said Mr Prigozhin has “extensive business relations” with the Russian defence ministry and is linked to the construction of a new military base in the Belgorod region near Ukraine. Also in 2016, Mr Prigozhin’s companies won the state competition to provide everything for the military: food, cleaning, barracks maintenance, heating and plumbing: at least 26 billion roubles (more than $370,000 to date) of state contracts for the maintenance of military camps, awarded to five St Petersburg-based companies owned by the oligarch.
The US government links him (along with 13 other Russians) to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The indictment says he had “spent significant funds” on the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a St Petersburg-based body that is nicknamed the “Russian troll factory”. The other two companies involved in the case are Concord Management and Consulting Ltd St. Petersburg and Concord Catering Ltd Moscow, both subsidiaries of the Concord group, of which Prigozhin is a co-owner. The Concord group is also on the US sanctions list for Russia’s military interventions in Crimea and Ukraine.
December 2016: Vladimir Putin with Col. Andrey Troshev (second from left), who is sporting the Hero of Russia award, and Col. Dmitry Utkin (far right), wearing four medals for valour
Prigozhin, who has strong ties to Indonesia and Qatar, is wanted by the FBI, which is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. In early November 2018, Novaya Gazeta reported that Prigozhin participated in talks between Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Libyan National Army Commander Khalifa Haftar. It is alleged that his private jet often flew to Sudan, Syria, Libya and Egypt. Prigozhin is alleged to be involved in OOO Evro Polis, a Prigozhin company that in the summer of 2017 contracted with the government of Syria to create a joint venture and protect Syrian oil fields in exchange for a 25% share in the production of oil and gas from fields liberated from ISIS. In addition, the Syrian government pays $50,000 annually to this company for the training of workers.
In near-absolute secrecy, the Wagnerians protect individual political figures in Crimea, the Donbass, Syria, Venezuela, the Central African Republic, but also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Libya, Madagascar, Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Mali, Burkina Faso and Belarus. In early 2020, Erik Prince, founder of the military company Blackwater, provided services to the Wagner Group in operations in Libya and Mozambique. According to leaked documents and interviews with former employees, the tasks vary greatly depending on the country in which the operation takes place. In some countries, such as Mozambique and the Central African Republic, mercenaries are in the field. In others, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Madagascar, only political strategists and bodyguards are present. In Chad and Benin, Utkin’s men work with politicians close to the Muslim armed group Seleka. In the Central African Republic and Mozambique, Prigozhin already had business interests before PMC Wagner stepped in.
Ukraine, Crimea and Donbass, 2014-2015 and 2022
Wagner’s mercenaries deployed in eastern Ukraine
Some sources speak of Wagner’s presence in the Crimea, but there is no evidence for this. In contrast, the participation of Wagner fighters in the Donbass in spring 2014 is certain: ‘After Crimea, Wagner fighters quickly found work in the Donbass. Mercenaries organised the rebel units and strengthened them. A few dozen professional fighters could not turn the tide of the conflict, but they became a pivot for many initially inexperienced militias. Thanks to this support, the rebels were able to quickly destabilise the Ukrainian power structures in the two regions, cripple local authorities, seize arsenals and gain full control of the street,’ Sputnik and Pogrom wrote.
At the beginning of 2015, he allegedly participated in the liquidation of some well-known figures of the separatist movement (the so-called ‘savage militias’) – gangs of thugs engaged in looting. In this case, the mercenaries were not only Russians but also Belarusians, Ossetians, Abkhazians and Ukrainians. The large number of Ukrainians is not surprising – in 1990, 80% of the officers of the Soviet special forces and airborne forces came from Ukraine. Desperate people, who after the end of the USSR could not find work, and ended up begging or committing suicide.
In October 2017, the head of Ukraine’s Security Service, Vasyl Hrytsak, stated that Wagnerians were involved in the destruction of an IL-76 military transport in eastern Ukraine in June 2014, the assault on Donetsk airport and combat operations near Debaltseve. A former Wagnerian, exiled in France, told of being contacted again to go and fight in Ukraine in February 2022.
Wagner’s mercenaries deployed alongside Syrian regime troops
At the beginning of 2011, the Arab Spring swept across Syria. Peaceful demonstrations were violently repressed by the police. Then, starting on 15 March, mass protests broke out across the country to demand the resignation of Bashar al-Assad. These events kicked off a conflict that would last eight long years and claim the lives of nearly half a million Syrians. The Wagner Group arrived in Syria in 2015: Russia’s military deployment in support of President Assad began in September and mostly took the form of air strikes, hitting civilian targets hard. Since the beginning of the military campaign, Russian authorities have denied the deaths of private fighters in that war, even denying their existence.
At the beginning of the military campaign, service in Syria lasted six months, later reduced to three. No difficulty crossing the border, the border guards probably know why the men are leaving. Their passports are not stamped. It is as if everyone flies over Syria for months and then returns home without ever having set foot on the ground. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, only volunteers, not part of the national army, are fighting in Syria, and only very few of them are dead. Certainly, more than a hundred Russian mercenaries were killed in one day alone by US air strikes on 7 February 2018. Some men who died in Syria had been arrested in Crimea and the Donbass in previous years. The relatives of the Russian soldiers were paid with insurance premiums underwritten by private military companies, which returned the bodies to the families.
In particular, Russian mercenaries are believed to have participated in the first and second assault on Palmyra in 2016 and 2017. Military sources claim that it was Wagner’s men who first entered the city recaptured by the regime. Officers serving in Syria earn about 150,000 roubles (about $2,300) per month. In Ukraine, they earned only 80,000 roubles (about $1,200). Those who were wounded were compensated with 300,000 roubles (about $4600), while relatives would receive 2 million roubles in case of death. Since the beginning of the campaign in Syria, compensation for death has amounted to 5 million roubles. When they returned home, they stayed in Wagner, because they would not find work outside that of the mercenary.
In June 2017, the Russian Ministry of Defence drastically reduced the supply of weapons to the Group. It is alleged that PMC Wagner was pushed to obtain funding from Syria, for military engagement and the protection of oil and gas fields. In November 2017, Putin announced the imminent end of the military mission in Syria. The Russian military presence is reduced to two military bases and some other infrastructure. Nevertheless, according to US intelligence Prigozhin was in close contact with the Kremlin in the run-up to the assault on the rebels in Deir al-Zour in February 2018. Wagner is said to have crossed the Euphrates River and bombed the base near Khursham, a short distance from highly prized oil fields. Intercepted communications showed that Prigozhin was involved in planning with Syrian officials prior to the attack, whose goal was to seize oil and gas fields controlled by the Kurds, allies of the United States.
Sudan and Central African Republic, 2017
Omar al-Bashir and Vladimir Putin
In 2013, the UN Security Council placed an embargo on arms shipments to the Central African Republic to prevent a new civil war. In December 2017, Moscow sent Russian arms, free of charge, to the Bangui government. In October 2018, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Moscow had asked the UN Security Council for permission to send another batch of military equipment to the Central African Republic. The United States, concerned about Russia’s growing presence in African countries, reports Wagner’s presence in the country and his direct involvement in the conflict to the UN. Russian journalist Alexander Kots publishes a video of a Russian instructor training soldiers in Sudan, titled ‘daily life of a Russian PMC’.
In November 2017, Sudanese dictator Omar Bashir, accused of genocide by the International Criminal Court, visited Moscow and asked Putin for help, who described him as the country’s ‘legitimate president’. US General Thomas Waldhauser states that ‘in the Central African Republic, Russia has consolidated its influence through extensive military cooperation, including arms shipments, and in return has gained access to the country’s markets and mineral rights’. Waldhauser believes that 175 Wagner Group ‘trainers’ are active in Bangui, and is concerned that the group is also acquiring clients in other African countries. The Russian authorities confirm this information and, in the following months, the French press discovers even more precise details.
In January 2019, the Times reports that Wagner Group mercenaries are also active in Sudan, where protests over the 30-year regime inflame the country. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova admits that ‘members of private Russian security companies’ are active in Sudan, but denies that they have links to the Kremlin. On 30 July 2020, three Russian journalists were killed in the Central African Republic: they were there to make a film about the activities of the Wagner Group. They were killed on the side of the road by unknown persons. The investigation into their deaths is still ongoing. It is assumed that they were killed by another PMC – the Patriots, which one of the journalists was investigating, or perhaps by the local rebel group Séléka. In January 2022, dozens of Russian mercenaries were transferred from Bangui to Ukraine.
The road to legality
The symbol of the Wagner Group
In July 2018, PMC fighters asked the Russian presidential administration to legalise mercenary companies. The Ministry of Defence responded that the activity of private military companies is unconstitutional. Veterans of the Russian armed forces believe that participants in PMCs are deliberately deprived of their legal status. Thus, they do not receive the financial support from the government that is given to veterans, but are instead prosecuted under the Criminal Code. 357 delegates from 52 Russian provinces write a petition to the government, claiming that PMCs have caused hundreds of Russian deaths in the Donbass, Syria, Libya, Central Africa and Gabon. However, the Russians fight abroad with the status of ‘volunteers’ and without any official recognition by the Kremlin.
However, the ‘divisions composed of ‘illegals’ (PMC Patriot, PMC Wagner, etc.) and their affiliated companies (e.g. Lobaye Invest, operating in the Central African Republic, and Evro Polis, active in Syria) sign contracts for the extraction of gold and oil internationally and receive concessions following official intergovernmental negotiations’. But they sign legally untenable contracts with Russian mercenaries, which do not regulate operations under combat conditions. Mercenary activities are forbidden in Russia; soldiers can only work for the state. The Criminal Code provides for up to seven years imprisonment for participation in armed conflicts on the territory of another country (Article 359) and up to 15 years imprisonment for recruiting, training and financing a mercenary.
But sooner or later Putin will have to change this, not least because by now the clean façade of the Russian regime has melted in the heat of the missiles fired at homes, schools and hospitals in Syria and Ukraine. The mercenaries of the Wagner Group, like their US- and South African-organised colleagues, are one of the biggest unresolved problems on the world political scene. We are back to the soldiers of fortune, who dragged the European Middle Ages into an orgy of bloodshed and popular repression. That is why, even if we have only recounted Wagner’s most famous horrors, it is important for the public to know, to be indignant, to do something. Everyone in their own small way. Otherwise, Greta Thunberg and the guys fighting climate change will soon become a sad joke from the days when the planet was still habitable.
 https://starer.ru/russkie-chastnye-voennye-kompanii-v-sirii-otkroveniya-boica-chvk-vagnera-spravka/ ; https://www.unian.ua/war/popasna-ukrajinska-artileriya-bilya-popasnoji-nakrila-rosiyskih-naymanciv-pvk-vagnera-novini-vtorgnennya-rosiji-v-ukrajinu-11778558.html
 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-43167697 ; https://www.dw.com/ru/%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BC%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%82%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B9-%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D0%BF%D0%BB%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B0-%D0%B7%D0%B0-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B8%D1%81%D0%BA-%D1%87%D0%B2%D0%BA-%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B8-%D0%B6%D1%83%D1%80%D0%BD%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D1%8B-%D0%BD%D0%B5-%D0%B2%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%BD%D1%83%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%8C-%D0%B8%D0%B7-%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%8F/a-44905820
 https://www.golosameriki.com/a/wagner-ghost-soldiers/6560778.html ; https://www.aa.com.tr/ru/%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%80/%D1%87%D0%B2%D0%BA-%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%80-%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%88%D0%B8%D1%80%D1%8F%D0%B5%D1%82-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%83%D1%82%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%B2-%D0%B0%D1%84%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B5/2366350#
 The list of Prigozhin subsidiaries and affiliates: https://spark-interfax.ru/search?Query=%D0%9F%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%BD+%D0%95%D0%B2%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B9+%D0%92%D0%B8%D0%BA%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87+
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/16/the-rise-of-putins-chef-yevgeniy-prigozhin-the-russian-accused-of-manipulating-the-u-s-election/ ; https://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/17/politics/russian-oligarch-putin-chef-troll-factory/index.html
 La lista di contratti tra il Governo e le società di Prigozhin: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/10R61ZSIpSjgHcdKKTl4uG59LVPM2FFlYYe8b6do9qgs/edit#gid=0
 Office of Foreign Assets Control, The Specially designated nationals and blocked persons list, since January 1, 2017: https://www.treasury.gov/ofac/downloads/sdnnew17.pdf p. 62
 https://valenteshop.ru/na-grudi-zolotye-zvezdy-za-palmiru-v-den-geroev-otechestva/ ; https://uawire.org/former-berkut-officer-suspected-of-euromaidan-shootings-may-have-died-in-syria ; https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2021/11/17/inside-wagnergate-ukraines-brazen-sting-operation-to-snare-russian-mercenaries/
 https://uawire.org/the-usa-seeks-evidence-of-russia-s-special-forces-in-venezuela ; https://uawire.org/kremlin-russian-military-experts-left-venezuela ; https://uawire.org/russian-media-reveals-sources-of-the-reports-about-russian-mercenaries-in-venezuela
 https://uawire.org/putin-prepares-for-military-campaign-in-libya ; https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2021/12/12_a_14308021.shtml ; https://www.aa.com.tr/ru/%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%80/%D1%87%D0%B2%D0%BA-%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%80-%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%88%D0%B8%D1%80%D1%8F%D0%B5%D1%82-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%83%D1%82%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%B2-%D0%B0%D1%84%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B5/2366350#
 https://www.aa.com.tr/ru/%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%80/%D1%87%D0%B2%D0%BA-%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%80-%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%88%D0%B8%D1%80%D1%8F%D0%B5%D1%82-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%83%D1%82%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%B2-%D0%B0%D1%84%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B5/2366350# ; https://eadaily.com/ru/news/2019/10/31/za-chto-gibnut-vagnerovcy-v-mozambike ; https://novayagazeta.ru/news/2019/11/19/157036-the-moscow-times-afrikanskie-chastnye-voennye-kompanii-teryayut-kontrakty-iz-za-chvk-vagnera
 https://www.aa.com.tr/ru/%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%80/%D1%87%D0%B2%D0%BA-%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%80- %D1%80%D0%B0%D1%81%D1%88%D0%B8%D1%80%D1%8F%D0%B5%D1%82-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%83%D1%82%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%B2-%D0%B0%D1%84%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B5/2366350# ; https://news.mail.ru/politics/48089464/ ; https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20220422-france-says-mercenaries-from-russia-s-wagner-group-staged-french-atrocity-in-mali
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 https://uawire.org/kremlin-says-no-russian-forces-hit-by-american-strike-in-syrian-deir-ez-zor-users-of-social-networks-prove-otherwise-with-their-posts ; http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/60797
 https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3548170 ; https://uawire.org/sbu-publishes-names-of-8-more-wagner-mercenaries-killed-by-us-in-syria ; https://uawire.org/kremlin-says-no-russian-forces-hit-by-american-strike-in-syrian-deir-ez-zor-users-of-social-networks-prove-otherwise-with-their-posts
 https://thebell.io/the-washington-post-prigozhin-soglasoval-s-kremlem-ataku-na-bazu-ssha-v-sirii ; https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/putin-ally-said-to-be-in-touch-with-kremlin-assad-before-his-mercenaries-attacked-us-troops/2018/02/22/f4ef050c-1781-11e8-8b08-027a6ccb38eb_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_no-name%3Apage%2Fbreaking-news-bar
 https://starer.ru/russkie-chastnye-voennye-kompanii-v-sirii-otkroveniya-boica-chvk-vagnera-spravka/ ; https://www.mk.ru/politics/2017/12/12/zhurnalist-pokazal-budni-rossiyskoy-chvk-v-sudane.html ; https://www.dw.com/ru/%D1%87%D0%B2%D0%BA-%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B0-%D0%B2%D1%81%D0%B5-%D1%87%D1%82%D0%BE-%D0%BE-%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%B9-%D0%B8%D0%B7%D0%B2%D0%B5%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BD%D0%BE/a-42596738