Russian Army Forces Replacing Wagner Group Mercenaries in Bakhmut

Russian Army Forces Replacing Wagner Group Mercenaries in Bakhmut

Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said that, by June 1, Russian regular military forces will completely replace Wagner Group mercenaries in the key eastern Ukraine city.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister partially confirmed this report. He said Wagner units have been replaced with regular troops in the suburbs, but Wagner fighters remain inside the city. Ukrainian forces still have a foothold in the southwestern outskirts, Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar said.

Mr. Prigozhin’s triumph in Bakhmut delivered a badly needed victory for Mr. Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has lost momentum and now faces the possibility of a Ukrainian counteroffensive using advanced weapons supplied by Kyiv’s Western allies.

Top Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Thursday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was already underway, cautioning that it should not be anticipated as a “single event” starting “at a specific hour of a specific day.”

Situation in Ukraine

The current Russo-Ukraine war is just the latest flare-up in a longstanding conflict that dates back to pre-Cold War times.

Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union’s first leader, was a dreamy-eyed revolutionary. Josef Stalin, his successor, was a hard-boiled pragmatist. Lenin was the reason communism was so popular, at least among some Americans, in the 1920s. When power-hungry Stalin took over, the blush faded from the rose very quickly. 

Stalin was committed to economic modernization, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, he did not care who got hurt in the process. That is a bad thing. As the central government pushed for collective farms, the Holodomor (terror famine) in Ukraine killed between three and five million people. Most likely, Stalin either engineered the famine or, at the least, did not do much to stop it.

Stalin uttered one of his most infamous quotes during this period. A journalist asked him about the millions of Ukrainians who starved to death while Moscow did nothing. Stalin supposedly brushed aside the criticism by saying, “A single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic.”

Powerful military strongmen like Stalin and his successors have some good qualities as well. For example, since no one dares to step out of line while they are in charge, they keep a lid on ethnic violence. The old Soviet Union included about 130 ethnic groups, so there was tension aplenty in this area.

When the Soviet bonds came off in 1991, most people rightly celebrated, but that development allowed old ethnic tensions to bubble up again. Russia and Ukraine have come to blows several times since then. The eastern fourth of Ukraine is mostly Russian, and rightly or wrongly, these people often feel marginalized. Once again, rightly or wrongly, big brothers like Vladimir Putin are more than willing to stand up for their little brothers.

That is basically where the battle lines are drawn in the current Russo-Ukraine war. The Ukrainians, with support from the United States and other countries, turned back a powerful Russian offensive in early and mid-2022. But the Ukrainians and their allies have been unable to dislodge Russia from eastern Ukraine. Russia is poised to annex this territory, a move that most countries in the international community will almost surely reject.

American Contractors in Europe

After the Cold War, the Soviet Union split into about a dozen countries that do not always get along with each other. The same thing happened to Yugoslavia after the Cold War. This Slav “super-state” in the Balkan Peninsula split into about a half-dozen countries, many of which don’t get along well with each other. 

In fact, the first major contractor deployment in Europe was during the Balkan Wars, which raged between 1991 and 2001. Serbian nationalist leader Slobodan Milošević, under the guise of restoring Yugoslavia to its former glory, which was never there in the first place, oversaw a campaign of genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and mass wartime rape.

Until the 1980s, U.S. law prohibited large-scale private military contractor use. When this law changed, or rather when the interpretation of this law changed, private military contractors replaced regular servicemembers in many parts of Europe.

Contractors are flexible. They go where needed in an instant. When that need disappears, they disappear almost as quickly. They do not require months of training or redeployment elsewhere. Additionally, contractors blend in better. They have American flags on their shoulders but do not exhibit the same pomp and circumstance as regular servicemembers.

On a related note, contractors give both sides deniability. Politicians in Washington rightly state the official American military commitment is waning. Local politicians rightly state that American armed forces are leaving. But there is no drop-off in regional security. This drop-off could lead to violent conflicts, like the Balkan Wars, which no one wants.

Injury Compensation Available

Wars are dangerous. But guard duty in Italy, Germany, or other “peaceful” countries is just as dangerous, especially for construction contractors. Some common construction injuries include:

  • Falls: Simple safety equipment, like a harness or guardrail, could prevent most or all of these injuries. But construction supervisors often do not provide such equipment, do not properly train workers in its use, or do not tell workers why it is important.
  • Electrocutions: Sometimes, an arc blast causes a fall. When people touch live wires, the explosion throws them through the air. Other times, the opposite thing happens. The energy involuntarily contracts hand muscles. As a result, victims have extended contact with energy that is hotter than the sun.
  • Caught Between: These injuries are also common at busy construction sites. Workers darting from one place to another often get “caught between” a large vehicle and a fixed object. That is especially true since, at many construction sites, workers with little or no experience operate some of the biggest motor vehicles in the world.
  • Struck By: If Jim drops a hammer on his toe, his toe will swell up, and he will experience other minor injuries. If Jim drops a hammer on Linda, who is three or four stories under Jim, she probably won’t survive.

These victims must pay incredibly high medical bills. A Defense Base Act insurance company must pay these bills if they are reasonably necessary.

This requirement holds up many DBA settlements. Insurance adjusters quickly approve the cheapest medical treatments. They usually do not approve reasonably necessary medical treatments.

DBA no-fault benefits also replace lost wages. This replacement minimizes financial stress, so victims heal faster and get back to work sooner.

For more information about DBA lost wage replacement benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.