Could the beheaded PMC "Wagner" be transferred to the South Caucasus?

28.08.23 22:27

The PMC "Wagner" has already been "spotted" in hostilities in the South Caucasus. Immediately after the 44-day war, there were reports that PMC "Wagner" mercenaries were transferred to Karabakh in the final stages of the war, where they fought on the side of Armenia and the "Artsakh" separatists, trying to prevent the advance of the Azerbaijani army, particularly in Shusha.


Even the late entry of the PMC "Wagner" could not save the Armenian occupiers from defeat. However, after the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, there was again information that Armenian revanchists and "Artsakh" separatists were counting on this PMC or its "derivatives" in the new war for Karabakh. Both Yerevan and the separatists are actively preparing for this, unwilling to accept the integration of Karabakh into a united Azerbaijan.

The connection between the PMC "Wagner" and the Armenian lobby was also recalled by the circumstances of the recent death of the PMC leadership. On the evening of 23 August 2023, while flying from Moscow to St Petersburg, a business jet belonging to the head of the PMC "Wagner", Yevgeny Prigozhin, crashed. Among the dead, in addition to Prigozhin himself, his deputy Dmitry Utkin and one of the key leaders of PMC "Wagner" Valery Chekalov, was a certain Yevgeny Makaryan. What Makaryan's role was in Prigozhin's entourage and who he is in general - there is no detailed information. A number of media refer to Yevgeny Makaryan as a "guard", but he has not previously appeared as a "guard" of Prigozhin or any of the management of PMC "Wagner".

The St Petersburg edition of "Fontanka" has compiled a short dossier of people from the list of passengers published by Rosaviatsia, Yevgeny Prigozhin's crashed business jet. It reveals information that raises more questions than it answers:

"Yevgeny Makaryan lived in Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk region, little is known about him - he has no social networks, no criminal record, he is 38 years old. More than ten years ago, his father was tried for murder, but the Supreme Court sent the case back for reconsideration and he was released for lack of involvement. "According to some reports, he used to be a district officer, with Wagner since 2016, fought in Syria", - writes the edition.

The fact that on his rather important flight, which turned out to be the last one (for which Yevgeny Prigozhin arrived from Africa), the leadership of the PMC "Wagner" took an almost unknown man of Armenian nationality (whose father, incidentally, had serious problems with the law, but which were apparently "solved" with the help of a powerful Armenian lobby), suggests certain thoughts. As does the fact that the key figures who recently created its "subsidiary" structure - the Armenian battalion "Arbat" - came from the "Wagner" PMC environment, in particular one of the commanders of the former "Wagner" PMC, now "Arbat", Hayk Gasparyan.

It is also known that Yevgeny Prigozhin did not treat Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis very well. Perhaps one of the reasons for this was that one of his main political opponents in the Russian Federation, the Governor of St Petersburg, Alexander Beglov, was born in Baku and had very good relations with the Azerbaijani community. But the fact remains that in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict the leadership of the PMC "Wagner" was clearly on the side of Armenia.

Today, with the deaths of both Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, PMC "Wagner" remains a fairly effective military structure with "proven combat" personnel. And it cannot be ruled out that this structure will try to use it in "geopolitical disputes" in the near future.
For some reason everyone is sure that the PMC "Wagner" has a "field of activity" in Africa. But Prigozhin's death (about the involvement of which "almost everyone thought" about the Kremlin and the FSB) may be connected not so much with Russian events and revenge for the rebellion of the PMC "Wagner" on 23-24 June 2023, but with Africa.

It was in Africa that Eugene Prigozhin often had rude conflicts with the former colonial "masters of the continent" - the French, who, firstly, insisted that PMC "Wagner" act within the "framework" outlined by Paris, without overstepping the boundaries of what was "allowed", and, secondly, were not averse to using PMC "Wagner" in other regions of the world where there were "French interests".

Prigozhin's death was "almost perfect" for France. No one thinks of its interest in an "accidental plane crash". If Prigozhin had been killed in Africa, it would have been France, which is being actively pushed out of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger by the "Prigozhins", and not the Kremlin and the FSB.

Following Prigozhin's death, there is increasing information that PMC Wagner's activities in Africa are rapidly winding down. The Kremlin is unlikely to allow PMC Wagner to become a significant factor in Russia and the Russian-Ukrainian war again, even without Prigozhin. They have not yet forgotten the fear that many representatives of the Russian elite felt on 23-24 June in connection with Prigozhin's mutiny and the march of the PMC "Wagner" on Moscow.

There remains another "potential" theatre of "military operations" which, according to all indications, could soon "catch fire" - the South Caucasus. And the same France, which is clearly on the side of the Armenian revanchists, is working on plans to "save Artsakh" with the participation of its real "allies", the same Iran.

Perhaps fighting "alongside Iran" on another front (after the same "alliance" in Syria) could be problematic for the same Prigozhin. We should not forget that Yevgeny Prigozhin has never hidden his Jewish origins or his sympathies for Israel. And a "great war" in the South Caucasus involving Iran could make Israel hostile to those who would agree to be "Iran's ally" under such conditions.

Today, Yevgeny Prigozhin is gone, but the military structure of the PMC "Wagner" remains, as well as those who are ready to use it in their own interests and "finance" its mercenaries. Thus the danger of a new war for the South Caucasus region becomes clear, because the role of the same PMCs in it may well increase sharply. And the ruins of Ukrainian Bakhmut, wiped off the face of the earth by "Wagner", can tell us what the active use of PMCs, which stop at nothing, leads to.

George Mazniashvili

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