The history of the Wagner group and gender-based violence during the war: what the leading foreign media wrote on the war in Ukraine on April 4

Oleksiy Yarmolenko

Almost all leading foreign media on Monday, April 4, published photos of Russiaʼs war crimes in Bucha near Kyiv. At the same time, they raised other issues, including demographic problems in Russia due to the war and the pandemic, mentioned the history of Wagnerʼs private army, and highlighted the topic of gender-based violence in Ukraine in the occupied territories.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine will foster a demographic crisis in Russia, Financial Times informs. According to its analytics, Russian demographics has been hit by COVID-19 with estimated 1 million excess deaths between March 2020 and January 2022. And now, following the invasion of Ukraine, Russia is experiencing a vast brain drain and will be affected by decreased fertility rate caused by an economic downturn towards the start of next year.

Gender-based violence during the war in Ukraine is featured in the article in The Guardian. Following the liberation of cities in Kyiv oblast that have been occupied by the invaders, there are more and more reports of sexual violence from women and girls of Ukraine. The article cites La Strada director Kateryna Cherepakha, in whose experience, the reports being received now are just the tip of the iceberg. Rape is used as a weapon against Ukrainians, affecting all women with fear of sexual abuse, that will, unfortunately, have its’ consequences even when the war ends.

The Economist writes about the story behind Wagner mercenary firm and it’s role in the war in Ukraine. Wagner is the most high-profile Russian mercenary group, named after Hitler’s favorite composer and sponsored mainly by Putinʼs close oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhyn. Despite multiple announcements of Wagner group deployment in Ukraine, it appears that the mercenaries are busy elsewhere ― in Mali, Central African Republic, and other corners of the world. In some places of their deployment, such as Libya and Mali, the mercenaries while not being able to achieve any feasible results, are accused of war crimes. So far, those heading to Ukraine do not appear to be from the core Wagner group, but to be joining new ad hoc formations. The group called Liga is present in Ukraine, is using the old Wagner infrastructure — the base, the recruiting channels, but it’s not what we’re used to calling Wagner.

As there is a vast amount of data regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is growing use of artificial intelligence technology used to collect and analyze it, Wired writes. While interception of transmissions and analysis of other sources like social media posts and smartphone recorded videos is not new, the use of natural language processing technology to analyze Russian military communications is a novel used by US intelligence. While traditionally the army would need humans to interpret intercepted messages, US company Primer has developed a tool that uses machine learning to collect and analyze such messages. As the Russian army still uses unencrypted channels of transmission, there is a lot of available data. And using AI tools to interpret it could provide critical information more quickly, allowing military decision-makers to outfox their foes.