According to the Ukrainian government, their soldiers in Vuhledar have recently made contact with another Russian Private Military Company which has deployed a significant number of personnel and equipment to rival Wagner Group.
Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for the Eastern grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine told Ukrainian media:
“In particular, in the area of Stepne on the Vuhledar front, we have noticed that in addition to Wagner PMC, Patriot PMC, affiliated with the current Russian Defence Minister Shoigu, has appeared. Obviously, they are pulling up all combat capabilities to achieve at least some results.”
According to their sources, PMC Wagner and Patriot have not been co-deployed to the same fronts. The majority of Wagner forces continue to employ soviet-era massed infantry attacks in the vicinity of Bakhmut, using their inflated numbers from prison extractions. The Patriot PMC, however, has been observed operating in squad sized actions integrated with Russian regulars.
This development comes after months of harsh criticism being levied at the Russian Ministry of Defense by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner PMC. By drastically increasing the size of his force from 5,000, mostly former-military members, to more than 30,000 with Russian prisoners, Prigozhin has been able to launch his own offensives independent of Russian military support. This confidence inspired his recent challenging of Ukrainian President Zelensky to a dogfight for Bakhmut.
Seeing PMC Wagner and PMC Patriot struggling for domination, relevance, and – most importantly – money is one of the shining example how and why dictatorial regimes such as in Russia can easily crumble under their own corruption, especially when exposed to extreme situations.
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) February 10, 2023
As for Patriot PMC, according to Inform Napalm: “It is s an upgraded version of the Wagner Group where all members are military professionals who are, apparently, still serving in Special Operations Forces or The Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (formerly GRU). Patriot members get higher salaries that may go up to $6,100 – 15,200 a month.”
Patriot PMC has been linked directly to Russian Defense Minister Shoigu who reportedly organized the group. While reports of Patriot PMC have been circulating since 2020, its ability has been greatly increased since the Russian invasion of Ukraine when the Russian government has reportedly opened up much more funding and access for PMCs, which are still outlawed under Russian law. As of this report, there are approximately eleven PMCs operating outside of Russia’s border with support from the military: