Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian private military company Wagner Group, an oligarch and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said through his own press service that the recruitment of volunteers from Russian prisons has been suspended. Why do you think?
According to Yevgeny Prigozhin, after the publication of the Wagner Group’s advertisement to the American audience, they received more than 10 million applications from US citizens who want to fight against NATO on the side of Russia.
In the promotional video, which is aimed at American veterans, it is said that America is destroying the world, wronging people, and giving criminal orders to soldiers. Only Russia fights global evil and invites you to join the ranks of the Wagner Group. Yevgeny Prigozhin says that now they have selected nearly a million candidates for the group and are considering hiring American citizens.
Let’s consider whether these are real numbers and how does the world community react to such statements?
The reaction of the mass media and expert society
Naturally, the Russian media use this information as the truth, about which there is no doubt, and as a personal victory in the information war, and ironically add that if the US State Department gives the order to recruit fighters for the «Wagner» PMC from American prisons, Prigozhin will carry it out.
Europe and the USA cover this news, but critically and add comments from experts who expose its falsity. Here are some examples.
The Institute for the Study of War
This claim by Wagner’s boss could not be independently verified, but ISW experts called the claim absurd and said they believed it would continue to recruit prisoners from Russian prisons, albeit in a much lower capacity than the Wagner Group.
Citing the American television company CNN, it qualifies Prigozhin’s statement as «sarcastic».
According to Simon Miles, the Wagner Group is unlikely to believe that the organization sincerely believes that American expat veterans will help fill their ranks.
«It’s crazy. Targeting the Americans is mostly a propaganda move, not something that will produce significant numbers.»
Why 10 million applications from US citizens is an unrealistic figure?
Let’s analyze the demographics of the United States. In 2023, the US population is 337,854,807. 225,463,775 people aged 15 to 64 (112,519,230 men / 112,944,545 women).
In 2021, the U.S. Regular Army numbered 485,000 soldiers and 336,000 soldiers in the National Guard.
There were approximately 3.31 million male veterans aged 35 to 54 and 644,475 female veterans in the US in 2021.
If you add up the number of active military and veterans of the United States, it does not come out to 10 million, which were converted into potential applications at the Wagner Group. Also, a survey of public opinion on US foreign policy for 2022, conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, showed that the American public continues to support economic aid to Ukraine (71%) and military transfers (72%).
Therefore, such a number of applications is simply unrealistic, considering the demographic indicators and the attachment of the majority of Americans to Ukraine.
What you should know about Wagner Group and Yevgeny Prigozhin
The trail of war crimes of the Wagnerites is traced not only in Ukraine.
U.S. The Department of State accuses the Wagner Group of executing civilians in Mali and being involved in disinformation efforts in various countries in Africa and the Middle East.
In «The Mueller Report: Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,» the author claims that Prigozhin funded the Internet Research Agency, which interfered in the American presidential election by spreading disinformation.
It is also worth noting that Prigozhin was recognized as a person of the year 2022 in the field of organized crime and corruption according to the International Center for the Study of Corruption and Organized Crime.
Louise Shelley (a University professor and Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair at the Schar School of Policy and International Affairs at George Mason University) called him a new type of winner. Because for the first time, it is not a national leader, but a corrupt person who supports terrorism and violates human rights in conflicts around the world.
On February 12, 2023, one of the Russian deputy published Prigozhin’s letter stating that he and the Wagner Group were completely removed from recruiting prisoners. According to him, due to the fact that they are very brave and effective in battles, this annoys the military elite of Russia. But the reason is different: massive losses, unsupplied troops, and public executions.
Disinformation is one of the Wagner Group’s professional tools on a par with military weapons, their purpose is to carry informational excuses that can shake society, but have no real basis.