The existence of the Wagner Group, a “private military company” (a polite euphemism for “paramilitary organization”) now being used to help fight Putin’s war in Ukraine, is upsetting in more ways than one. Mercenaries are rarely a good thing, especially when they’re fighting for a terrible cause (something this humble spirit knows all too much about), and the group is responsible for some of the worst human rights violations of the war, no small feat given the Russian Army’s war crimes against civilians. Without the Wagner Group’s support, the incompetent and poorly equipped Russian Army would most likely have collapsed by now.
Upset number two is knowing the Wagner Group’s founder and chief operator, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is a Russian oligarch so closely tied to Putin that he’s known as “Putin’s chef.” This modern-day mercenary force, known as “Putin’s private army,” fights for terrible causes the world over, of which the Russian dictator’s unjust war of aggression against Ukraine is now the most prominent. Notable examples include Syria, another site of horrendous destruction and human rights violations, and the Central African Republic, where their primary objective is to plunder the country’s natural resources, as in diamonds and gold, for the Kremlin.
The United States Has Declared the Wagner Group a “Transnational Criminal Organization” Based on its Widespread Atrocities and Human Rights Abuses.
Which brings me to what is perhaps my greatest upset of all: the crime being committed against the Wagner Group’s soldiers themselves. To fill the ranks, it’s estimated that 80% of the group’s 50,000 fighters in Ukraine are prison inmates, men who have no choice but to fight and be fodder for Putin’s war of aggression. This practice is hardly new to history but constitutes a disgrace in the 21st century. I remain incensed that the greedy Confederate Slave Power was able to coerce (whether they were drafted or volunteered) poor yeoman farmers to fight their awful war, and the situation in Ukraine is all too analogous.
I not only regret fighting for the evil Slave Power, the “Cotton Kingdom” I so detested, but for leading poor white boys (often referred to as “Common men” in my day) to their death. There’s no denying the Wagner Group’s prison recruits are guilty of atrocities in Ukraine, and I won’t defend them, but they are being sent to be slaughtered for the pleasure of megalomaniacal Putin and his horrible regime. Whatever crimes these men may have committed prior to being recruited by the Wagner Group, forcing prisoners into the “labor” of war is a barbaric practice that should be ancient history.