Kimberly Marten (Professor of Political Science, Barnard College) co-authored an article for the Center for a New American Security. Together with Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche, Nicholas Lokker, and Kristen Taylor she argues that even after the demise of the Wagner Group, Russia has incentives to use similar groups in Eurasia to exert influence and create instability and discusses potential avenues for such conduct.
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The death of Yevgeny Prigozhin on August 23, 2023, likely signals the demise of the Wagner Group as an organization, at least in its current form. The group might continue in some form under more compliant leadership, or it may eventually fragment, with some of its functions being absorbed by the Russian state while other individuals and assets are appropriated by existing and newly created organizations. Nonetheless, despite Prigozhin’s death and the failed mutiny he orchestrated in June, Russia is likely to continue working with semi-state armed formations in the future. Moscow’s resource constraints and geopolitical headwinds as a result of its war in Ukraine increase the Kremlin’s need for such semi-state organizations and the assets and capabilities they contribute to Moscow’s ability to assert influence beyond its borders.