Conflict Crisis Management Defense Industry Libya Middle East North Africa Politics & Diplomacy Russia Security & Defense Syria Ukraine
Podcast November 30, 2023

What’s Charlie Sheen got to do with it?

By Alia Brahimi

In Season 1, Episode 9 of the Guns for Hire podcast, host Alia Brahimi is joined by the Russia analyst Sergey Sukhankin. They discuss the arrest in Libya of the Wagner Group operative Maksim Shugaley and the propaganda campaign to free him, broader information and media operations in Africa, and the re-emergence of Wagner Group remnants on the frontlines in Ukraine. Sergey and Alia also delve into a range of related topics, including Russian policy in the arctic, the Chinese private security industry, and the Chinese leadership’s shock that a country like Russia, which has invested so much in its military-industrial complex, should depend on mercenary formations for influence.

“This goes back to Soviet times when the Soviet Union was inviting people like [George] Bernard Shaw and many other public figures… Today Russia is using virtually the same playbook.”

Sergey Sukhankin, Russia analyst

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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.

Image: Stickers with QR codes that lead to a website for recruitment for the Wagner mercernary paramilitary group are seen on trash recepticles in Warsaw, Poland on 15 August, 2023. Polish police on Monday announced the arrest of two Russian nationals after posters and stickers for Wagner recruitment appeared in Cracow and Warsaw. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE