For journalist Alexandra Josset, deploying Wagner mercenaries gives “cult blanche to possible abuse”

They have been completely exempt from liability in the four corners of the world since 2014. There are now mercenaries in Ukraine deployed in Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, or more recently in Mali, and hired by the Russian private company Wagner. , A British newspaper revealed on Monday. Times.. There is nothing surprising for journalist Alexandra Josset. He was the origin of her enlightening research on this organization and co-directed with her colleague Ksenya Bolchakova.

Broadcast in France 5, this rich and extensive documentary looks back at Wagner’s origins, details his complex connection with the Kremlin, and reports on the methods of destabilization used by this group during various conflicts. To do.In an interview with 20 minutes, Alexandra Josset analyzes the problematic role played by this organization and the consequences of its involvement in the war that has caused Ukraine to fight Vladimir Putin’s Russia since February 23.

What is the Wagner Association?

Russian private military company. It’s a mercenary company. In Russia, this kind of private military organization is illegal, so Wagner has no legal existence. Created between 2013 and 2014, it bears the name of the founder of the first fighter group, Dimitri Utkin. He is a worshiper of Adolf Hitler with the SS symbol tattooed on his neck. However, the profiles of Wagner members are quite heterogeneous, with Ukrainians as well as Russian men. During our investigation, we met a former member of the French Foreign Legion, a former prisoner, and a former reserve force. What they have in common is that they sell services in exchange for bonuses.

What do we know about the links maintained between this company and the Russian authorities?

There is no direct connection between the Wagner and the Kremlin. They also play in this “gray area”. But what we know is that this company uses the means of the Russian Ministry of Defense to carry out its mission all over the world. Wagner’s training and recruitment center is also right next to the base of the Russian intelligence agency GRU, and during a mission in Libya, a report written under Wagner’s command was sent to the Russian Army Chief of Staff. It is known that example.

During our investigation, one of our interlocutors who worked for the Wagner Group clearly told us, “We are a subsidiary of the Russian government.” This is an open secret based on the concept of “plusible deniability”. When Wagner commits the abuse, Vladimir Putin can completely say: “It’s not us, we have nothing to do with them, and if you have a problem with this company, they Please contact me. ” However, all the evidence we have collected shows that the organization was unable to act without the Kremlin’s encouragement or consent.

According to information from British newspapers Times, More than 400 Russian mercenaries belonging to this company have been sent to the Ukrainian capital to assassinate the president. How would you like to analyze this information?

Personally, I couldn’t support this information. Meanwhile, it is now known that several Russian private military companies, including Wagner, are deployed in Ukraine. Since 2014, the existence of these paramilitary organizations has almost continued in this country. In addition, the first mission entrusted to Wagner took place in Ukraine and consisted of eliminating separatist leaders who had too much power. Therefore, this type of mission is part of the tissue’s DNA. After that, Wagner members performed gendarmerie missions primarily in Donbus. They helped the local army maintain order.

What role can this private organization play in the current Ukrainian conflict?

According to our sources, despite the strong presence of paramilitary organizations belonging to these private companies in Ukraine, this is a bucket compared to the number deployed by regular Russian troops. It remains declining. Wagner does not change the face of the conflict. On the one hand, it is an effective way to terrorize the population. Deploying these men on the ground is to give the medical record blanche to possible abuse. This is what happened in the Central African Republic.

Wagner’s other asset is the ability to polarize the debate and launch disinformation campaigns. The activities of this company are not limited to the military field. In 2016, the organization used the social media “Troll Farm” to partially coordinate a disinformation campaign for the US presidential election. This model was then replicated in Africa. It’s a complex weapon, evolved and well thought out.