Date of Graduation

Fall 10-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)

First Advisor

John Zarobell

Second Advisor

Brian Dowd-Uribe


This study provides in depth case studies of three distinct theaters of operations that the Wagner Group participated in order to further Russian national interests overseas. The first of theise is a case study just across the Russian border in the Ukraine during the Crimean annexation and the subsequent Donbas War where the Wagner Group was founded. The second case study also signifies the next stage in the Wagner Group’s evolution as it enlarges and is put in the vanguard for major operations in the Syrian Civil War culminating in the infamous encounter with US forces in Khasham. The third and last signifies the latest in the PMCs evolving roles as it operates more akin to orthodox understandings of PMC roles in the Central African Republic. All of which are analyzed through a logistics, command and control and operational sense that were compared to further reinforce the Wagner Group’s role in the new Russian foreign policy doctrine as well as an emerging pattern on how the PMC has been utilized. This latter revelation provides a roadmap that could predict the Wagner Group’s actions proportional to Russian interests in a new theater. The study also sheds some light on the flexibility afforded by an illegal PMC that operates in a quasi-controlled state by the Russian government. It touches on how this ambiguous legal relationship can be beneficial to a state that utilizes it when it wants to exert control as well as when it needs to distance itself from unfavorable consequences.

Available for download on Saturday, June 15, 2024

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