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Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Hilary Appel

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2023 Erik H Lohmus


The Wagner Group has emerged as one of the most prominent actors of the on-going Russo-Ukrainian war. Although Private Military Companies are banned by the Russian Constitution and Russian Criminal Code, Wagner has been able and permitted to operate all across the world as a foreign policy tool of the Russian state. However, Wagner’s use and employment in Ukraine has differed drastically compared to Syria, Central African Republic and Libya, as the group is employed in a more conventional capacity. With many of the Russian successes in the east of Ukraine attributable to Wagner, the financier of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has started to use these successes to criticize the way the war is conducted, creating tensions in the Russian political sphere.

This paper examines the role that the Wagner Group has played in the Russo-Ukrainian war. Moreover, the paper focuses on how the Wagner Group evolved from a small contingent used for advancing foreign policy goals to a considerably large parallel military structure alongside the Russian Army with a great degree of autonomy and political leverage, ultimately projecting power and posing a potential threat to Russian political and military elites.