The Wagner Group: Putin's Secret Mercenary Army

The Wagner Group: Putin's Secret Mercenary Army

Everything you need to know about Russia's powerful mercenary force, the Wagner Group.

Andrew H. Sweet • Raghavan Mayur

Russia, which has the world's fifth-largest military, does not use its forces the same way the U.S. does, despite its claim to be a "world power."

According to David Vine, a political anthropology professor at American University, the U.S. had 750 bases in at least 80 countries as of July this year.

In comparison, Russia has an estimated 26 to 40 bases in nine countries, mostly former Soviet republics, Syria, and Vietnam.

The United States openly displays its military presence, which is widely welcomed around the world.

Russia uses a variety of tools to flex its hard power ambitions.  The use of private military companies (PMCs) is a critical component of Russia's hard power strategy.

PMCs have many potential benefits for the Russian state.