According to reports, the infamous mercenary outfit Wagner, which has connections to the Russian military, is constructing a new headquarters for its fighters and the volunteer corps of Russia’s national guard. Following the passing of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s previous owner, in an aircraft crash last year, came this discovery.
In his first video message since Prigozhin’s passing, Wagner leader Anton Yelizarov made the announcement. The new facility, named the “Cossack Camp,” is most likely situated in Rostov, a city in southern Russia, according to information released by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD). It will also reportedly be “co-located with the barracks of Russia’s 150th Motor Rifle Division.”
According to the MoD, Wagner’s subordination to the Russian National Guard, or Rosgvardiya, is “implicitly” indicated by the Cossack Camp’s formation. The ministry claims that this action is likely sanctioned by the Russian government and is a calculated attempt to remove Wagner as a possible threat to the security of the regime.
Providing context to the situation, the Wagner mercenary force has a history of fighting for Russia in conflicts like the one in Ukraine, where it was instrumental in the takeover of Bakhmut. In June, the organisation experienced internal discord when Prigozhin tried to set up a mutiny march towards Moscow from the military headquarters in Rostov, citing his dissatisfaction with the alleged inefficiency of the Russian military leadership.
Following the mutiny, Russian President Vladimir Putin banished Prigozhin from Russia and called the Wagner fighters traitors. Putin commanded the surviving Wagner fighters to swear loyalty to the Russian state after Prigozhin’s tragic death in an aircraft crash on August 23.
The Russian government is possibly attempting to consolidate control and neutralise possible challenges by building the new Wagner headquarters and aligning itself with the Russian National Guard. This action highlights the complicated dynamics between mercenary groups and official institutions in Russia, while its geopolitical ramifications are yet unclear.