Staunton, Feb. 8 – Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed a decree allowing Gazprom Neft, a Russian company that works in the Arctic, to set up its own private military company (PMC), raising the specter that it might be used by the Russian authorities as a paramilitary force much like Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner PMC.
As Nilsen reports, “Gazprom Neft is the oil-producing subsidiary of Gazprom,” with operations spanning across the northern regions of the Russian Federation into the Arctic Ocean. The company has not said why it has created this PMC, and it may be nothing mors,e than a group intended to provide security for its facilities as Russian PMCs were first intended.
But the role of the Wagner Group in Africa and Ukraine suggests that this new force may be used for other purposes, including against Western countries who are engaged in oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, who have challenged total Russian control of the Northern Sea Route, or who want to maintain their own capacity to project power in the North.
Because such a danger certainly exists, it is important that those concerned with peace and security in the Arctic focus on how this group develops to ensure early warning as to whether it is simply a security team for a company or yet another covert means the Kremlin is developing for use against the outside world.