UK Parliament launches inquiry into Russia-linked Wagner mercenary group

The inquiry aims to identify the unique challenges posed by countries' use of PMCs to destabilize regions and wage war.

Russian mercenaries provide security for convoy with president of the Central African Republic (photo credit: CLÉMENT DI ROMA/VOA/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Russian mercenaries provide security for convoy with president of the Central African Republic
(photo credit: CLÉMENT DI ROMA/VOA/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The United Kingdom's Parliament Foreign Affairs committee in March launched an inquiry into the use of private military contractors, including the Wagner Group, as proxies.

The inquiry aims to identify the unique challenges posed by countries' use of PMCs to destabilize regions and wage war.

The Wagner Group

The investigation is centered on the Wagner Group, which is linked to the Russian government and has been accused of committing human rights atrocities.

The Wagner Group has had a notable role in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War and may have operations in the Central African Republic, Libya, Mozambique, Syria, Sudan and Venezuela.

A vehicle of Russian and Syrian mercenaries in Bria, in Haute-Kotto (credit: CORBEAU NEWS CENTRAFRIQUE/CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)/WIKIMEDIA)A vehicle of Russian and Syrian mercenaries in Bria, in Haute-Kotto (credit: CORBEAU NEWS CENTRAFRIQUE/CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)/WIKIMEDIA)

The deadline to submit evidence is September 27, according to Parliament.

“Private military companies can operate as legal enablers of legitimate activity or in the shadows, blurring the lines between legal and illegal activities,” said MP Tom Tugendhat, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. “Despite the threat their use can pose to peace and democracy worldwide, international law in this area is ambiguous and policing powers are limited.”

“Some of these private military companies, such as the Wagner Group, engage in ruthless mercenary activities at the behest of states like Russia, profiting through bloodshed and taking an active role in Ukraine and other countries,” he added.

“This inquiry will ask what is currently known about ‘proxy’ private military companies, in particular the Wagner Group. It will explore international law in this area, and ask what more can be done to identify, track and sanction members of private military companies.”