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McFate Speaks With Newsweek About the Exodus of Wagner Group Soldiers

March 24, 2023


Sean McFate

Sean McFate

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the financier of the Wagner Group of mercenaries fighting in Ukraine, has appealed to Moscow for help ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive and as a British assessment says he faces an impending exodus of troops.

Sean McFate, adjunct professor in Maxwell's Washington programs, has spoken with some Wagner fighters. He says there was tension within Wagner between the "old guard" of professional soldiers, and new recruits drawn from prisons who have been seen as cannon fodder.

"I would not say they were elite but the old guard were relatively good and now there are criminals out of jails," he says. "That has created a schism within Wagner of basically 'what is our brand?'"

"Most of the old guard have sought to remain in places like Mali, or in Africa, away from the Ukraine fight, because the guys I talked to before the invasion were not supportive of the invasion," says McFate.

"They've been trying to get away from it. They've been sucked back into Ukraine because Prigozhin needs his talent there," he says.

Read more in the Newsweek article, "Wagner Chief Prigozhin Calls for Kremlin Support Amid Soldier Exodus."

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