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Unclear but present danger : assessing the impact of private military contractors on civil war severity Lenko, Michael


Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group’s ‘March for Justice’ has been the greatest threat thus far to Vladimir Putin’s regime. Months prior to Wagner’s March for Justice, Wagner was a key part of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and was a key factor in Russian foreign policy on the African continent. As private military contractors (PMCs) continue to gain continued media exposure through Wagner’s headline-grabbing actions, the effect of PMCs continues to be an under-analyzed facet of research. Through quantitative analyses, this paper examines the effect of PMCs on conflict severity (measured in battle-related deaths) in civil wars from 1989-2016. The origin and the type of civil war a PMC is involved in have real implications for the level of violence associated with PMCs in a civil conflict. Through my findings, I build on the conventional wisdom of the PMC and civil war literature, as well as provide a future research agenda in this blossoming vein of scholarship.

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