ISW: Wagner Group will reform itself into an army with an ideological component
Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin said that he would transform the Wagner Group into a hardline ideological elite parallel military organization after the Battle of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin stated on March 11 that the Wagner Group will start a new wave of recruitment after the envisioned capture of Bakhmut and reform itself into an army with an ideological component.
The Wagner Group has recently been expanding recruitment centers throughout Russia, including centers and programs focused on recruiting youth.
A Russian regional news source stated on March 11 that the Wagner Group has opened six recruitment centers in schools and youth sports clubs in Altai, Zabaykalsky, Krasnoyarsk krais, and Irkutsk region.
A Russian opposition news source reported on March 11 that the Ministry of Education in Apatity, Murmansk region included Wagner personnel at a career guidance lesson to tell “heroic stories” and promote the Wagneryonok [“little Wagner”] youth group and summer camp in Crimea.
The Wagner Group likely aims to recruit more impressionable recruits through these youth-focused campaigns and instill in them Prigozhin’s extremist ideological brand of Russian ultranationalism. Prigozhin may be attempting to restructure the Wagner Group into a hardline ideological elite parallel military organization to carve out a specialized role among Russian forces in Ukraine as its former role in solely securing tactical gains dissipates with the Wagner Group’s likely culmination around Bakhmut.