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Russia to expand private militaries in broader Middle East amid staffing crisis

As it wages a full-scale war in Ukraine, Russia wants to reform its army while being chronically short of security personnel, and increasingly dependent on mercenaries
This grab taken from AFP video footage shows a member of Ukraine's military looking away as a rocket launcher fires on the outskirts of Soledar, whose fate was uncertain after Russian Wagner group claimed it controlled the town, Ukraine, Jan. 11, 2023.

During the Syrian military campaign, the problems within the Russian army units were strictly visible to specialists. But in Ukraine, where Moscow and Kyiv operate large units on a nearly two thousand-mile-long frontline, those difficulties have been demonstrated more acutely, and are prompting the Kremlin to lean more heavily on private military companies (PMCs) in the fighting. 

One of the most fierce and public critics of the actions of the General Staff of the Russian army, which oversees operational command of the armed forces, is restaurateur Yevgeny Prigozhin. The oligarch and close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has emerged, even in the highly censored Russian media climate, as a core critic of the forces and of individual generals.

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