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Vitalie Marinuța: Wagner mercenaries often act against Russian leaders’ orders

The private army Wagner of Russia is led by the owner and this acts in its own interests. Moreover, the Wagner mercenaries often act in breach of the instructions coming from Moscow, ex-minister of defense Vitalie Marinuța stated in a public debate hosted by IPN. According to him, the war in Ukraine is the most extensively covered event in history, the fighting being transmitted practically in real time.

The former minister of defense noted that there are many resemblances between the Afghanistan war of 1979-1989 and the current war in Ukraine. Russia acts like a state that claims territories in countries in which it wants to keep its sphere of influence.

“The Russian Federation started and wages a war in Ukraine, which is almost similar to the war in Afghanistan. Since the fall of the USSR, Russia has led many internal and external wars, with the first outside the Russian Federation being the war in Georgia. But Russia called them all special operations. The first Chechen war was a so-called operation to impose the constitutional order. The second Chechen war was an anti-terrorist operation in Northern Caucasus. The war in Georgia was called special operation to impose peace. In Ukraine, we also see a so-called special operation. This shows that Russia does not perceive these territories as independent states, as it didn’t perceive Afghanistan. It regards them as vassals, zones of influence of the Russian Federation,” noted Vitalie Marinuța.

According to him, the massive support offered by the U.S. in the form of armament will determine the length of the war in Ukraine.

“Air assault forces and special troops were massively used in Afghanistan. Russia tried to act similarly in Ukraine, but didn’t adjust its military strategies to the field realities. Ukraine since 2014 has had a proper air defense system with qualified trainers. In the war in Afghanistan, after the U.S. started to offer massive assistance in Stinghere, a lot of Soviet planes and helicopters were shot down. In a year and a half, Russia realized that it cannot win the war in Afghanistan. The situation is much the same in Ukraine. We see that emphasis is placed on air defense systems and on the use of drones. In the Russo-Ukrainian war, we can see the fighting almost in real time. The service members have cellphones, cameras on helmets and the battles are broadcast practically in real time,” stated Vitalie Marinuța.

He explained the difference between the Wagner merchants who fought for Russia, but act like a private army and pursue their own goals, and the soldiers of other states enrolled in the Ukrainian army.

“The mercenaries or private armies weren’t used extensively in Afghanistan. The warriors in Afghanistan fought for religion, for what they believed in. In the Russo-Ukrainian war, we see the Wagner army that is a private army that really brings the capacity of the Russian army into question. At present, the Wagner army is supported by President Putin more than the army of the Russian state. In the recent past, they have spoken about an open conflict between the private army and the army of the Russian Federation. Last week, I visited Kiev and met with legionnaires from the Republic of Moldova there. I saluted them. They are on the frontline to defend the Republic of Moldova in Ukraine. The difference is that they sign a contract with the Ukrainian armed forces when they go to Ukraine, being part of the armed forces of Ukraine, but they form part of the foreign legion. For its part, the Wagner private army is led by the owner who has his own interests. This army often acts independently, even in contradiction with the orders given by the senior administration of Russia,” concluded the ex-minister of defense.

The debate entitled “Common roots of USSR’s war against Afghanistan and of Russia’s war against Ukraine” was the second installment of the series “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany. The first installment of the project was held last week under the theme “Common roots of World War II and of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine”. The video recording can be seen here.

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