Analysts say new paramilitary organizations are forming in Russia. As the Russian Army struggles to obtain the Kremlin’s objectives in Ukraine, paramilitary organizations are playing a more dominant role in the Ukrainian War. Difficulties abound as casualties mount and recruiting has become a daunting task. Paramilitary organizations are providing critical augmentation which may shape future wars as more soldiers are replaced with private armies.

Wagner Group Keeping Russia Afloat

One well known paramilitary organization in Russia, is the Wagner Group. Wagner Group, AKA private military company (PMC) is a network of mercenaries. Wagner is essentially a private army of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Because it supports Russian interests, the Wagner Group receives military support and equipment from the Russian Ministry of Defense and is allowed to train on Russian installations.

During the War in Ukraine, we have seen Wagner Group come out of the shadows and into the forefront of Western military news. Becoming an ever more prevalent force, it appears Wagner may be in control of the ground fight in Russia’s bloody War against Ukraine. During the last few months, some analysts say the only thing keeping the Russian Army afloat, is the Wagner PMC.

New Ally or Same Old Foe?

In February, Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted to leading the mercenary group. With Wagner’s rising importance on the battlefield and well-publicized Russian ammunition shortage, Prigozhin launched an embarrassing campaign against top Russian military brass. Rants against Russian leadership’s handling of the Ukraine conflict included accusations of “treason” and “incompetence” for depriving his troops of ammunition. “I’m unable to solve this problem despite all my connections and contacts,” Prigozhin stated, adding that he must, “apologize and obey” to secure ammunition. The Russian Defense Ministry has denied any validity of Prigozhin’s accusations, saying that such statements were “absolutely untrue.” Analysts are still trying to determine if this long-time ally is now a threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin or if he is just doing the Kremlin leader’s bidding.

With the atrocities already committed by Wagner, analysts think this could be a control issue. The thinking is that the PMC may either be out of control or too large for the Kremlin to control. Either possibility is horrifying, but the logic is grounded in the emergence of a new PMC. It appears Putin’s concerns over control of Wagner may be diminishing with the birthing of a secondary paramilitary group working for the Kremlin.

Convoy Steps onto the scene

This new PMC is called Convoy. As the European press is now openly discussing the existence of a second PMC, its notoriety is climbing. The news initially broke by iStories (Important Stories), which is a Latvian-based investigative news group consisting of award-winning exiled Russian journalists. Convoy is in Kherson Oblast adjacent to occupied Crimea. A recent Russian propaganda report stated Convoy’s mercenaries were armed to the teeth. They are reported to have a whole apartment building underground as their fortification along with T-80 and T-90 tanks. According to Kyiv, Convoy is believed to have their own intelligence apparatus.

According to iStories, the leader of Convoy is Sergey Aksyonov, the head of the Kremlin-backed administration in Crimea. In 2014 and the Russian Crimea annexation, Aksyonov, AKA the “Goblin” was appointed peninsula administrator by Putin. Evidently, Aksyonov created Convoy late last year, probably under Kremlin authority.

Convoy’s emergence comes as Wagner’s mercenaries struggle to overcome Ukrainian resistance and reports of Moscow trying to reduce Wagner’s “dominant role”. With a much smaller footprint, analysts are trying to determine the exact role that Convoy will play in Ukraine.

To date, there are no indications of a rivalry between the two militia groups. Aksyonov and Prigozhin appear to have a good relationship. Aksyonov’s military leader for Convoy is nicknamed Mazay and thought to be Prigozhin’s former right-hand man. Further, Aksyonov recently threatened to apply a “death penalty” to Russian officials who were reluctant to send ammunition to Wagner militiamen.

Russia Continues to Scramble

Today, Wagner continues to gobble up resources and media attention. With around 50,000 prisoner-turned-fighters in Ukraine, Wagner appears to be playing indispensable role for the Russian army, which desperately needs new recruits as Kyiv prepares for a major counteroffensive.

The use of paramilitary organizations to assist the Russia’s Army is proves to be challenging. New private armed groups emerging in Russia, may indicate leadership is scrambling for solutions. Russia probably has no choice but to grow the use of PMC, as the army is not functioning well, and private military organizations appear to provide continued essential augmentation.



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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at