The four Warner brothers – Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack – founded Warner almost 100 years ago, in 1923, which today operates in film, television and video games. The company has become one of the leading film studios in the United States. They baptized it as Warner Bros (Brothers) in honor of the four founding brothers of the company.
Warner is also currently a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), an industrial entity created a century ago to look after the interests of film studios and which defines itself as “the voice of the global film industry. and television” and as a motor of the creative economy both in the world and in Latin America.
Some of the members of the MPAA are: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Netflix Studios, LLC; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Universal City Studios LLC and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
But another very different thing is the Wagner, with ‘g’, a group created, almost a century late, in 2014 and that, although it also makes action movies, is defined as a paramilitary organization of Russian origin that operates as a private military company operating in 30 countries around the world on four continents, especially in Africa; Central African Republic, Syria, Sudan and Ukraine.
The newspaper ‘The New York Times’ defined the Wagner Group as “… a nebulous network that combines military force with commercial and strategic interests and that is now at the forefront of the expansion of Russian ambitions in Africa.”
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A nebulous network that combines military force with commercial and strategic interests and is now at the forefront of expanding Russian ambitions in Africa.
He also accused him specifically of having participated in the wars in Mali, the Central African Republic, Mozambique and Libya and of allying himself with troubled leaders and militia commanders “who can pay for their services in cash or with lucrative mining concessions for precious metals such as gold, diamonds and uranium”.
In addition, they accuse it of being much more than a simple scheme to exchange weapons for gold, since it operates through “an extensive network of front companies (…). It has become synonymous with wide-ranging Kremlin-backed operations in more than a dozen African countries.”
The newspaper claimed that Wagner meddles in politics. He supports autocrats, drives digital propaganda campaigns, distributes food to the poor, and produces action movies set in Africa.
The Kremlin has denied any link to the Wagner Group, but US and European officials and military experts have repeatedly called it an official tool of its might that allows President Vladimir Putin to extend his reach in the face of Western sanctions after the war on Ukraine.
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Groups like Wagner have become “a vital tool with which Russia expands its influence in the world while defending its interests. There is currently a presence of Russian mercenaries in at least 30 countries on four continents”, states the Argentine digital publication ‘Infobae’ in a note.
In Latin America?
In Venezuela and Chile, the eventual presence of Wagner’s mercenaries has been mentioned, but it is difficult to confirm this and other regional information in this regard.
Some admit that it could have been present in the violent social uprisings in Bolivia, Colombia, Chile and Peru between 2019-2021. “It is known that there were people paid to destroy and cause chaos and panic, but it is difficult to know the origin,” a military analyst who asked not to be identified told EL TIEMPO.
In January 2019, the British news agency Reuters reported, based on various sources, that Russian military contractors had traveled to Venezuela to reinforce the security of Nicolás Maduro, threatened by opposition protests. Venezuela has been an ally of Russia, which, in turn, has supported the Maduro regime with billions of dollars in aid and loans in recent years.
(Also read: The controversy over Nicolás Maduro’s homophobic comment during transmission).
In March 2020, the private Spanish news agency, Europa Press, released other information from Madrid in which it stated, backed by statements by the Russian consul in Minsk, Kiril Pletnev, that Wagner Group mercenaries, detained in Belarus, were heading to Latin America.
“On July 25 they were to fly from Minsk to Istanbul and from there to a third country. Their final destination was a Latin American state,” Pletnev told Russian channel Rossiya 1.
The Wagner is considered one of the most secret organizations in Russia, but it is estimated that it has hired at least 10,000 people for various activities in the last decade. However, none of this data can be officially verified.
Unofficially it is explained that the group is made up of “a network of companies and private militias, made up of mercenaries who act clandestinely”, but the Kremlin does not recognize it, because in Russia it is illegal and mercenaries are punished with 16 years in prison. .
(Also: Biden announces G7 will ban Russian gold imports.)
They are useful to the Kremlin, allowing them to make ‘plausible deniability’; that is, commit actions without repercussions on the Russian State and thus be able to deny it
Although the group operates underground and functions as a kind of secret society, their performance is a cry out. Military analyst Frank Matías Bueno recently explained to France 24 that “in the case of Russia, mercenaries have become a tool to project their power” and that they were used for the first time in Ukraine in 2014.
“They are useful for the Kremlin, allowing them to do ‘plausible deniability’; that is, to commit actions without repercussions on the Russian state and thus be able to deny it”, since the use of mercenaries is prohibited by international law, he explained.
The Wagner emerged in 2014 during the Russian annexation of Crimea and would be financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman and close associate of Vladimir Putin. whom the United States government has identified as ‘Putin’s chef’ due to his banquet business with which he has organized various state events for the president.
But Wagner’s founder is believed to be Dimitri Velenevich Utkin, a lieutenant colonel who served in the Russian special forces and is noted in some publications as neo-Nazi.
The United States imposed sanctions against him as head of the Wagner Group in 2017 and, two years later, the Council of the European Union imposed restrictions on Utkin and other subjects accused of being part of the organization.
In March this year, the UK announced sanctions against 59 Russian and six Belarusian individuals and companies over the bloody Putin-led invasion of Ukraine in April. The companies included the private military services group Wagner and Altrosa, the Russian diamond giant.
(We recommend: What does Russia think about Ukraine’s candidacy for the European Union?).
The United Nations, as a human rights organization, has repeatedly accused the Wagner Group of attacking and torturing civilianscarry out mass executions and loot private property in conflict zones.
‘The New York Times’ affirms that the organization not only participates in wars, but also extracts diamonds, spreads disinformation and supports autocrats to increase Russia’s influence in Africa. Likewise, mercenaries are hired to fight in some of the oldest conflicts on that continent.
Unofficially, it is stated that the Wagner Group does not control its personnel directly, but rather makes temporary contracts for specialized workers.
“Candidates pass physical examinations and undergo a review of their skills and experience before beginning a period of training at a facility near Krasnodar, in southwestern Russia. After that phase, staff are sent abroad. If the workers are killed in action, it is unlikely that their bodies will be repatriated”, it is stated in online publications.
(Also: Russian missile took a turn and exploded against the base that had launched it).
All of the above, the name Wagner does not come from its founders, as in the case of Warner Bros., but rather, curiously, it was inspired by the composer Richard Wagner, who was Hitler’s favorite musician.
Also, movie sagas like ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’, from Warner, have nothing to do with Wagner, with ‘g’.
Much less with naive cartoons like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky, Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester and Tweety or Coyote and Roadrunner, some of the most recognized Warner characters in the world.
Wagner, on the other hand, is, according to the London BBC, “the name of a group of Russian mercenaries that carry out operations around the world, from actions on the front in Syria to the surveillance of diamond mines in the Republic Central African. He moves in secrecy and that makes it difficult to follow his activities”.
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