For many years in the press with a certain frequency there has been a campaign for the permission-ban of PMCs. The importance of the question lies in the fact that there are PMCs. But they are not. The legal status of such companies is vague and incomprehensible to most Russians. Soldiers of fortune? Wild geese? Security structure? Or maybe the bandits?
In principle, PMCs have been used for a long time. And the beginning of such use was laid, if not hundreds, then tens of years ago. If you think a little, it becomes clear that in Russia a whole stratum of the population, or, as they said at the time, the class, was a PMC. Cossacks. They did not have an official status of military units. However, if necessary, they carried out military tasks for the protection and defense of the territory of the state. And, let us note, successfully.
Moreover, the famous ataman Yermak annexed Siberia to Russia, too, not as a representative of the army of Tsar Ivan, but as a private person. History speaks delicately - "the detachment of ataman Yermak". Not a host, not a regiment, not an army. Just a squad. And in essence, a private military company, in modern terms. Equipped with a specific purpose.
But the heyday of PMCs began at the end of the last century and continues today.
What are the tasks performed by PMCs? The conversation will be held for the time being about the official moments. About what is written in the contracts.
First of all, PMCs are necessary for business. Transnational corporations operate in several states at once. Modern equipment costs decent money. And businesses are not always located in peaceful zones. It is clear that using PMCs in Europe or America is stupid. The state can ensure the protection of objects on its own. There is enough of its own armed division of the company. And in Africa? Syria? Iraq?
The next important point is the transportation of goods. Many people remember the pirates from Somalia. When the actions of small groups of armed bandits began to bring huge losses to transport companies. Pirates took advantage of the fact that civilian ships were not even armed with small arms and took tankers and other ships prisoner without any resistance.
The protection of ships at the state level, even with the use of the navy, although it reduced the activity of pirates, did not completely eliminate it. And it cost a lot of money. And the costs were borne by several leading countries in the world.
The problem was successfully solved by PMCs. Well-armed and well-trained fighters with their actions discouraged pirates for easy money. Moreover, according to some reports, PMCs could even recapture captured ships from pirates.
Another official task of the PMC is to escort VIPs. Companies, and sometimes states, cannot always provide protection for their owners and leaders. Officially, the head of the company is nobody for the state. Private person. And if the company has billions of dollars in turnover? Such a person becomes a tasty morsel for criminal structures. The private military quickly dampens the gangster ardor.
PMCs officially work in the frontline zone, but, according to international law, they are not allowed to participate in hostilities on any side. That is why PMCs specialize in medical care, logistics, construction of military facilities, rear support of the army, and minefield clearance.
There is one more task that is not related to real combat operations. Intelligence service. Some PMCs specialize in the search and analysis of intelligence information for the army.
The fact is that the modern army, especially of Western states, today practically cannot do without PMCs. Thus, in the course of the Iraqi campaign, the United States paid ten private military companies for logistics, intelligence and other services more than $ 60 billion in the first 6 years of the war alone. Agree, the scale of activity of "private traders" is impressive.
And what about Russia? Why are Russian PMCs not on the radar? Everyone knows that there are such structures, but no one can say for sure which ones and what they are doing.
In our opinion, there are two reasons for such a "smoke screen" over Russian PMCs. First of all, this is the negative attitude of Russians towards mercenarism as such. In Russia, it is considered a crime to be a mercenary. Law! It is more understandable and even honorable for us to be a volunteer.
The second reason is purely corporate. Russia has a sufficient number of former military personnel who have gone through the crucible of war. Almost every department today has its own special forces. And quite well prepared.
And the main "suppliers" of personnel for PMCs were and remain the Ministry of Defense and the FSB. It is clear that corporate ties remain in these PMCs. Therefore, depending on who is at the head of the company, the companies are secretly supervised by one of these departments.
The question of the need to adopt the Law on PMCs back in 2012 was voiced by V. Putin. He demanded to legalize the activities of PMCs, calling them "an instrument for the realization of national interests without the direct participation of the state."
In 2014, the Fair Russia party submitted to the Duma a draft law on PMCs. However, the project was successfully "killed" in the defense committee. The deputies decided that the law was irrelevant, incomprehensible and useless. Moreover, representatives of both the Ministry of Defense and the FSB unanimously opposed this law. Cause?
The official status of PMCs will lead to the emergence of companies in the country that can resist the official law enforcement agencies. Private "Rimbaud" scared the security forces.
So, the legal status of PMCs in Russia has not been received. But they are. Why? Yes, simply because Russian legislation on this issue is structured in such a way that there are no clear wordings. And the "blur" and makes it possible to exist "on legal grounds."
The most famous and perhaps the most serious PMC in Russia is the RSB-Group. It is this company that offers the full range of services of a classic PMC. The company's price list includes the protection of facilities, including oil and gas, airport security, escort of convoys in the conflict zone, escort of civil ships, etc. In addition, the company's specialists offer services for demining facilities, intelligence and counterintelligence, data analysis.
Companies have appeared that offer services for the release of hostages and the return of goods. Simply put, the market requires services, PMCs provide them. Of course, companies often do the work of government agencies. But, you must admit, how often the victims remain dissatisfied with the actions of such structures.
But most PMCs with the participation of Russians operate outside of Russia. Most often these are small companies. It is known about several PMCs in Africa. These companies not only successfully compete with the "old" Western companies, but have already pushed these companies out. In addition, there is information about the work of our PMCs in Syria, Iraq, Iran.
Paradoxically, it is these PMCs that interfere with the adoption of the law. Due to the past specialization of their fighters, Russian PMCs in conflict zones are rather closed. Information about them is most often at the level of private communication, rare messages in local media and social networks. And this, in turn, gives rise to a lot of rumors.
In an article about PMCs, no matter how much one would like not to touch upon this topic, one cannot do without the Ukrainian topic. The Russian media had a lot of materials about Western, especially Polish and Baltic PMCs. There were also materials about American PMCs. But only one is mentioned in Russia.
Many remember the string of assassinations of prominent Republican commanders last year. When, in an incomprehensible way, those who opposed the leaders of the republics or had an independent position on issues of state building in the republics died under circumstances that showed the actions of professionals.
It was then that Wagner's PMC surfaced. The company is serious, although not particularly "lighted" in the Donbass. A mysterious structure that does not fit into a "classic" PMC. Calling a PMC company can only be a stretch. It is rather a paramilitary organization with an incomprehensible structure. Some analysts talk about a "battalion tactical group". Agree that such a company cannot exist without some support at the top.
Moreover, today there is information about the existence of a Wagner PMC training camp in the Krasnodar Territory. And armored vehicles and heavy weapons appeared in service.
By the way, many people think that companies like PMC Wagner have appeared recently. Alas, the history of this company begins back in 2013. And by and large, even earlier. The famous "Slavic Corps", which fought in Syria, became the basis of this company.
Today, Western analysts say that Wagner's PMC has become more active in Syria. Moreover, she participates in hostilities both independently and as part of the Syrian army. In addition, they write about the interaction of PMCs with the Russian army. But there is no official confirmation of this. And, of course, it won't.
At the beginning of this year, the issue of PMCs was again raised in the Duma. On January 28, they began to discuss it. However, such a discussion did not bring any results. The deputies were again afraid of responsibility and found a bunch of reasons. Until now, the law on PMCs has been discussed at various levels.
The appearance of publications on this issue is clearly the result of the beginning of the election campaign. Now you can find those who will "push through" the law in the new Duma. You can include this issue in the list of problems that need to be solved in the near future. The candidates today are much more sensitive to the problems of the country than the deputies of tomorrow.
Naturally, the question arises: do we need this law?
The answer is clear. Needed. And really urgent. The existence of small companies, such as PMC Wagner, is not always legal. And not only according to Russian laws, but also according to international ones. Direct participation in hostilities is an example of this. The classic "nothing personal - just business". You need to make money. And money doesn't smell.
Large companies are more controlled by the state. They have a lot to lose. Even the image of such companies is expensive. But vice versa for small companies. The more "turbid", the more profitable. The same PMC Wagner, I repeat, was created on the basis of the disbanded "Slavic Corps". For a small company, losses in the event of liquidation are minimal. There are fighters and that's all. There are not very many material losses. Although armored vehicles and heavy weapons cost a lot, the company's revenues make it possible to quickly compensate for losses.
The law is also needed because today Russia is forced to spend huge amounts of money on the rearmament of the army and navy. And this, in turn, leads to a decrease in costs for other areas of life. PMCs, according to the draft law, will work not only abroad, but also in Russia. This means that to solve the tasks of protecting objects (many have simply forgotten that most of the "state" companies are actually LLCs, CJSCs, etc.), to escort important cargo, to ensure the safety of citizens.
That is, to do what such an organization as VOKHR was engaged in in the Soviet Union - a militarized guard that existed as a subdivision of the non-departmental police guard service, as well as the departmental guard of enterprises and institutions.
Thus, the costs incurred by the state today will be transferred to the shoulders of the private sector of the economy.
The events in Ukraine have shown that volunteers who participate in the conflict (on both sides) are politically beneficial to the state. And we too. You can always disown them. We went ourselves, we are participating. Themselves are responsible for their own life and death.
But the task of the state, among other things, is to protect the interests of its citizens. Not only in punishment for mercenary activities, but also in protection. Those who, at the call of their hearts, went to fight, are the same citizens as the rest. So why shouldn't the state protect them?
PMCs are an ordinary business project. And, like any business, they will pay taxes to the treasury of the country. After all, the injuries and illnesses of soldiers today are treated in the same way as the illnesses of workers in other spheres. So let the companies pay for their risk.
In general, the problem of PMCs must be solved today. It’s embarrassing to hide our eyes and talk about the absence of these companies in our country is already indecent. The decision is ripe. Either we clearly regulate the activities of PMCs, and then we establish control over this business, or we "drive" them into a bigger "shadow" - and then any volunteer can be recognized as a mercenary with all further "charms", any fighter - too.
The vagueness in existing laws plays against the state today. It is necessary to make complete clarity in the concepts and formulations. Loopholes are a way to create bigger problems later on.