Photo by Dylan Hunter on Unsplash
The EU needs to respond immediately to the hybrid threat from Russia: Putin is training professional killers and criminals to destabilise Europe
For years, Russia has been building an agent network among national diasporas in various EU countries. It has exploited the freedom of speech in democratic European countries, organising and holding pro-Russian and anti-European rallies that only serve to provoke and threaten mass unrest. Today, Moscow is trying to flood the EU with mercenaries from PMCs – trained killers and terrorists. Migration control over Russian citizens trying to enter the EU (even from third countries) must be strengthened. This is the key to maintaining peace and stability in Europe. After all, under the guise of Russian migrants and political refugees, terrorists and mercenaries enter the EU to carry out the Kremlin’s task of destabilising the internal political situation in Europe.
Against the backdrop of the Russian army’s military failures in Ukraine, mercenaries of Russian private military companies (PMCs) are involved in subversive activities in Europe. This is evidenced by the recent statements of the owner of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, about the difficult situation at the frontline, and the information about the suspension of recruitment of mercenaries to be sent to Africa.
At the same time, the Wagner PMC has already withdrawn some of its fighters from African countries. At least 5,000 Russian mercenaries were stationed in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and the Central African Republic until March 2023. Now their number has decreased by 10%. The majority of the 500 Russian mercenaries who left Africa have settled in Europe, where they are preparing to carry out the criminal instructions of the Russian authorities to destabilise the internal political situation in Europe. Their largest centre is in Serbia.
On the other hand, in order to get as close as possible to the EU border, the PMC “Convoy” was created in Crimea, which is actually a subsidiary of the Wagner PMC. It was officially created by the head of the occupation “administration” of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov. Konstantin Pikalov, who is the curator of the Wagner PMC in Africa, was appointed as its commander.
This shows that Putin is not going to stop in Ukraine. He has repeatedly emphasised the goal of achieving the revival of the Soviet Union, and thus a Russian zone of influence in Europe, the geographical scope of which coincides with the countries of the former socialist bloc. That is why Russian PMCs have an important task to destabilise the internal political situation in any European country.
According to French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian PMCs are engaged in “life insurance for political regimes and putschists” around the world. In turn, Italian intelligence reported that increased activity of Russian PMCs could destabilise North and West Africa, thus provoking an increase in migrant flows to the European Union. It is important to note that provoking a migration crisis is a priority for Putin, as it would have a shock effect on Europe. It is no secret that Russian mercenaries continue to be in the Central African Republic, ruthlessly killing civilians in Syria, and are ready to secretly arrive in any European country at any time at the first command of the Russian president. They are well-trained, able to commit assassination attempts and terrorist attacks, and thus pose a significant threat to certain political figures in the EU, and can provoke social and political unrest and anti-government uprisings.
The founder of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, previously stated that after the war in Ukraine, more than five thousand recruited prisoners returned to Russia, all of whom were pardoned under the promised amnesty. It is likely that these individuals will not be able to stay in Russia for a long time without work. Therefore, they are likely to be sent on a “combat mission” to any European country to strengthen the existing cells of Russian militants. It is crucial for the Russian leadership to use mercenaries with combat experience to carry out terrorist attacks and incite protest among right-wing and left-wing political movements in the EU. Putin is preparing an army of “professional killers” for Europe. Some of them have already settled in Italy, Poland, Germany, and the Baltic States. Others are waiting to be sent to Europe soon.
The Kremlin’s extensive network of “agents of influence”, Russian sympathisers, mercenaries and militants who allegedly claim to be Europeans – all of this constitutes an unprecedented threat that is already growing in Europe. The more obviously the Russian army is depleted, the stronger Russia’s hybrid aggression will become in Europe.
For years, Putin has been deploying Trojan horses to EU countries, but now, in addition to pro-Russian politicians and businessmen, professional mercenaries and mobilised criminals who have been granted amnesty for their serious crimes are being added. They will end up on the streets of European cities. In order to prevent this tragedy, absolute migration control must be established: a thorough check of everyone who comes from Russia or wants to obtain refugee status in Europe. If necessary the borders with Russia will have to be completely closed. This is an issue of vital importance to the EU.