Ukraine, no longer just Wagner: here are the new battalions at the front

Sources from the Ministry of Defense bring out the news of the creation of the Ural Battalion financed by the copper tycoon Igor Altushkin

Not just Wagner anymore. The bowed head with which Evgheny Prigozhin reacted to the attack on the club he owned in St. Petersburg, which cost the life of blogger Z Maksim Fomin, coincides with the diffusion, on various channels, of news of new private battalions at the front in Ukraine.

Sources from the Ministry of Defense bring out the news of the creation of the Ural Battalion financed by the copper tycoon Igor Altushkin, assets estimated at 3.4 billion dollars (Forbes) and “by other individuals” whose identity is not provided. Little is known about the battalion either, except that in February it fought at Kreminna.

Altuskinwhose recent efforts to recruit men into prisons were blocked by ‘veteran’ Prigozhin, began his career as a scrap metal scraper, eventually founding the Russian Copper Company in 2004 in Yekaterinburg, now the third largest copper producer in Russia. with mines and plants in Russia and Kazakhstan.

The company lost a monstrous amount of money last year to the industry crisis brought on by the sanctions. Not unlike the families of many other members of the Russian establishment, the wife and at least one of the children has a British passport. In London, he owns, among other properties, a £17 million ($21 million) townhouse that formerly belonged to Madonna.

He has been defined as “the Orthodox billionaire” for the financing secured for the construction or restoration of churches in the Sverdlovsk region and in Chechnya. He hosted Patriarch Kirill on his private plane bound for Yekaterinburg and is considered close to the Kremlin, especially after he donated funds for the monument to Alexander III unveiled by Putin in Crimea in 2017.

The Moscow Times news site, which broke the news of the Battalion today, points out that they are tens of thousands of Russians fighting volunteers among the ranks of private units organized by local authoritiesby Cossack groups and by the so-called ‘Special Fighter Reserve’, some of which were financed by another pro-Orthodox tycoon, Konstantin Malofeev, patron of the ideologue Dugin, father of Darya, killed last August in an attack.

Among other things, the British Ministry of Defense has foreseen that in Russia there is an intention to sponsor and develop alternatives to Wagner, in its usual intelligence analyzes on the situation in Ukraine. “It is a development that takes place in the context of the high-profile feud between the Russian Defense Ministry and the Wagner Group. Russia’s military leadership probably wants a replacement private military company over which it has more control. However, none currently known come close to the size or power of the Wagner.”

Taking advantage of this fervor, in recent days, the director of the Federal Agency of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Russians abroad Rossotrudnichestvo which controls the Centers of Russian culture in the world, Evgheny Primakov, nephew of the former prime minister and foreign minister homonymous, announced the creation of the private military company, to protect the centers in “hostile” countries, therefore also in Italy which in Rome, in Piazza Cairoli, hosts the Russian Center of science and culture.

“Rossotrudnichestvo is forced to react to the deteriorating situation, with our offices operating with increasing frequency in hostile countries, while the hysterical accusations against us are bound to continue – he declared on Telegram – We, in fact, have nothing to lose, therefore, realizing that we must somehow ensure the safety of Russian homes and the rights of our compatriots, having no other means, we decided to register our private security company in one of the foreign jurisdictions”. According to Primakov, “the presence of well-armed, robust and motivated people” in the offices will make the work that the agency does on a humanitarian and cultural level “more visible”. The director of Rossotrudnichestvo, founded in 2008 by the then president Dmitry Medvedev, then mentioned the two names being considered for the company: Puskinisty, which means the followers of the Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin, or Whiskers, again as a reference to Pushkin, because the poet had sideburns.