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October 26, 2023

Prosecuting the Wagner Group

By Alia Brahimi

In Season 1, Episode 8 of the Guns for Hire podcast, host Alia Brahimi is joined by the international lawyer Jason McCue. Jason provides a background to lawfare – the use of law for strategic advantage – and how it was forged in the 1990s to go after the IRA. He goes on to discuss its application to the Wagner Group, the global programme of Ukrainian victim-led litigations that he leads, why the Wagner Group ought to be designated as terrorists, and how he and his law partner were personally sanctioned by the Russian state. He also describes his work related to Libya specifically, which began when was investigating the IRA’s chief of staff and discovered that the IRA’s entire supply of semtex had been provided by the Gaddafi regime.

“Autocrats are looking for a model for asymmetric warfare against democrats and the Wagner model is definitely the model on the table, with its plausible deniability. And it’s really important for us to not only designate it but to litigate it.”

Jason McCue, international human rights lawyer

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About the podcast

The Guns for Hire podcast is a production of the Atlantic Council’s North Africa Initiative. Taking Libya as its starting point, it explores the causes and implications of the growing use of mercenaries in armed conflict.

The podcast features guests from many walks of life, from ethicists and historians to former mercenary fighters. It seeks to understand what the normalisation of contract warfare tells us about the world as we currently find it, but also about the future of the international system and about what war could look like in the coming decades.

Further reading

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.