Wagner Group Predicts Protracted War in Ukraine

Wagner Group Predicts Protracted War in Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, military planners expected the fighting to last a few weeks. Now, Wagner Group mercenaries say the fighting could last three years or more.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group’s owner, said in a video interview that it could take 18 months to two years for Russia to fully secure control of Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas. He added that the war could go on for three years if Moscow decides to capture broader territories east of the Dnieper River.

As Russian troops push their attacks in the Donbas, Moscow has also targeted energy facilities and other vital infrastructure, seeking to demoralize the Ukrainians during the long, cold winter. 

Ukraine’s energy company, Ukrenergo, said the situation was “difficult but controllable.” Furthermore, the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear operator Energoatom Petro Kotin said that more power is available since workers repaired two key nuclear reactors.

Ukraine and Southwest Asia Conflicts

When the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003, military planners expected a repeat of the brief Persian Gulf War. That prediction was based not only on the 1991 war but on the Six-Day War between Israel and an Arab coalition in 1967. This full-scale war lasted, well, six days. In less than a week, Israel effectively crippled its neighbors’ ability to make war and more than doubled its size. 

Incidentally, many Arabs refer to this conflict as the June War. They understandably do not like to remember their quick and decisive defeat.

Aside from the overly ambitious initial timetables, the wars in Iraq and Ukraine bear little resemblance to each other.

The Iraq War seems like yesterday to some people, but for others, it is something to read about in a high school history book.

In 2002, based on what turned out to be some shaky intelligence, Congress gave then-President George W. Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. That shaky intelligence linked longtime Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and also indicated that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, mostly ballistic missiles that carried chemical warheads.

Both these claims are unproven. So, many observers condemned the 2003 U.S.-lead invasion. Kofi Annon, then the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the invasion violated the U.N. Charter and was, therefore, illegal.

As expected, U.S. forces quickly overwhelmed Iraqi forces. But an insurgency began that lasted the better part of a decade. 

Meanwhile, the fallout continued.  Iraq held multi-party elections in 2005. Nouri al-Maliki became Prime Minister in 2006, a post he held until 2014. His government alienated the country’s previously dominant Sunni minority, worsening sectarian tensions. 

In the summer of 2014, ISIL, which grew from the ashes of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, launched a military offensive in northern Iraq and declared a worldwide Islamic caliphate, leading to Operation Inherent Resolve, another large-scale military response from the United States and its allies. 

Up to one million Iraqis, most of them civilians, may have died during the Iraq War. Additionally, the war hampered the domestic popularity and public image of Bush. It also strongly affected Prime Minister Tony Blair’s popularity in the United Kingdom, leading to his 2006 resignation.

The current Russo-Ukraine war actually began in 20154, when pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine seized government buildings in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region and proclaimed the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) as independent states.

The war was mostly dormant until Russia launched a full-scale invasion in 2022. In the buildup to this invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the enlargement of NATO and demanded that Ukraine be barred from ever joining the military alliance. Russia also recognized the DPR and LPR as independent states.

Much like America’s invasion of Iraq, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was internationally condemned. Russian forces, along with Wagner Group mercenaries, almost took Ukaine’s capital city Kyiv in early April 2022. Then, Ukrainian forces began recapturing territories in the northeast and south as a result of successful counteroffensives.

The ongoing full-scale war has resulted in a major refugee crisis and tens of thousands of deaths. Currently, no one is sure how many people are affected.

Injury Compensation Available

American private military contractors played a vital role in the Iraq War. They faced the same hazards that everyone else faced. Injured servicemembers could count on the VA disability system. Injured contractors could count on the Defense Base Act. The DBA’s benefits include partial lost wage replacement and reasonable medical bill payment. DBA insurance company lawyers often bitterly contest the amount of compensation in both areas.

Usually, injured overseas contractors receive two-thirds of their average weekly wages (AWWs) for the duration of their temporary disabilities. Permanent disability benefits are available as well, once again based on the victim’s current and likely future AWW.

To determine the current AWW, it is not enough to look at the last six or eight paystubs and divide by six or eight. Past wages are not a good indicator of current wages if the victim has recently changed jobs. Furthermore, this method does not account for near-future changes, like missed performance bonus milestones and missed overtime opportunities.

A far-future AWW is even harder to determine. This calculation involved not only the injured victim’s medical condition, but also their vocational and educational background. Injured contractors cannot come home and become doctors. So, a DBA lawyer usually works with accountants, psychologists, economists, and other outside professionals in this area.

Similar controversies swirl around reasonable medical bill determination. Insurance adjusters notoriously only approve the cheapest possible approach. If a contractor spent three months in the hospital, lawyers often argue that s/he could have been discharged after two months, and they refuse to pay for the other month.

Most DBA victims can choose their own doctors. So, their doctors, and not insurance company bean counters, determine what was reasonably necessary under the circumstances.

For more information about DBA eligibility, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.