Lavrov defends Sudan over Wagner; Chechen terrorism statistics spotlighted

Threatologist Eurasia: 4 May 2023


Threatologist Eurasia is a free weekly newsletter covering security threats -- to the state and from the state -- across Russia and Eurasia. It keeps you informed about important developments related to terrorism and insurgency, private military companies and semi-state security forces.


If you find this newsletter useful, please tell a friend about it! If someone has forwarded this newsletter to you, you can subscribe at

This week's main stories:

  • Lavrov defends Sudan over Wagner
  • Kavkaz Realii challenges Chechen terrorism statistics
Lavrov defends Sudan over Wagner

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has insisted that Sudan is within its rights to employ Russian Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 26 April). His comments follow reports that Wagner is supplying Sudan’s Rapid Support Force (RSF) with surface-to-air missiles (see Threatologist Eurasia: 27 April 2023).


Lavrov was speaking at a United Nations press conference, where he was asked about developments in Sudan and whether Wagner was subordinate “to the Russian government or another body.” In response, Lavrov emphasised the private part of PMC and spoke about how Mali and the Central African Republic had also felt compelled to use Wagner’s services so as to not be left “defenceless” in the face of France’s diminished involvement in the region. Lavrov insisted: “The Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan and several other countries, where governments and legitimate authorities requested such services, are fully in their right to do this.” He blamed the United States for instability in Sudan, claiming that the logical conclusion was to allow Sudan to choose its own path, without external interference.


Lavrov also drew parallels with PMCs in other countries, implying Wagner was no different: “If you feel concerned about this, look up online the number of private military companies that exist in the United States, Britain and France. There are dozens of them, and many of them have been working for years right on our border, including in Ukraine. This is suggestive as well.”

Kavkaz Realii challenges Chechen terrorism statistics

Kavkaz Realii, part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has published an article critiquing Chechen official statistics on terrorism and counterterrorism. The Chechen Interior Ministry reported 104 terrorism-related crimes for 2022, alongside the death of two alleged militants and the elimination of a terrorist cell.(Kavkaz Realii, 26 April).


The article notes that the Chechen authorities have to tread a fine line in publishing such statistics. On the one hand, they need to report enough terrorism- and insurgency-related activity to justify funding for the Chechen security services — a major employer in a republic with a depressed economy. On the other hand, if the reported levels of activity are too high, they risk making it look like they’re not doing their job.


The article does not offer anything fundamentally new; it merely cites several experts who elaborate on reasons to be sceptical about the information being presented by officials. Nevertheless, it is worth reiterating on a regular basis that official figures on the topic of terrorism and insurgency need to be treated with caution. This is especially true in light of recent attention (see Threatologist Eurasia: 20 April 2023) around alleged insurgent activity in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Other stories of interest
  • Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov reported that he had met with Wagner owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin to discuss international issues and Western sanctions. Kadyrov claimed they had many “common interests” despite reports of disagreements between the two (Kavkaz Realii, 26 April).
  • Kadyrov has claimed that he is considering creating his own private army to “defend” oppressed people around the world (Caucasian Knot, 1 May).
  • Security services in Ingushetia detained a man accused of aiding alleged insurgents involved in recent clashes in the republic (see Threatologist Eurasia: 20 April 2023) (Caucasian Knot, 26 April).
  • Police detained seven people in Karachayevo-Cherkessia on extremism charges, on suspicion of planning to use drones to supply prisoners with mobile phones. According to the Russian Interior Ministry, the individuals were allegedly “supporters of the ideology of a movement that is banned in our country, which promotes the values and traditions of the criminal world” — presumably a reference to Arestantskoye ugolovnoye edinstvo (Prisoners’ Criminal Unity) (Kavkaz Realii, 26 April).
  • Kadyrov has reported on the deployment of the Akhmat-1 OMON unit, which is subordinate to the National Guard and was created in September 2022. Kavkaz Realii claim that at least 26 members of the unit have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the year (Kavkaz Realii, 27 April).
  • Nastoyashcheye Vremya reports on recidivism and violence from Wagner fighters who have returned from Ukraine (Nastoyashcheye Vremya, 27 April).
  • A Russian court has dissolved the SOVA Center, a nonprofit organisation that researches nationalism, xenophobia, and human rights (BBC Russian Service, 27 April). The organisation had failed an “audit” and been accused of involvement in events outside its area of registration (see Threatologist Eurasia: 23 March).
  • A court has sentenced a Krasnodar Kray resident to six years for transferring money to rebels in Syria between February 2013 and August 2014 (Caucasian Knot, 28 April).
  • An appeals court has rejected the appeal of a Dagestani native sentenced to 11 years for recruiting two acquaintances to carry out a terrorist attack (Caucasian Knot, 30 April).

This newsletter and its content is copyright of Mark Youngman and Threatologist. Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content.

Unsubscribe   |   Manage your subscription   |   View online