How are Russian private military companies [ChVK] engaged? How does their work differ from the work of mercenaries? And how could ChVK change the situation in Syria? These and other questions were answered to the journalist of Kommersant FM, Anatoly Kuzichv, by the head of the private military company RSB Group, Oleg Krinitsyn.
The interview is translated by Carpatho-Russian exclusively for SouthFront
“We cannot occupy that niche which the British are already occupying.”
Oleg Krinitsyn on the functions of private military companies:
“In fact, private military companies are not defined in law for us, but since we are heirs of Byzantine jurisprudence, then what is not forbidden is permitted, either unfortunately or fortunately. Therefore, having incorporated the most positive experience of foreign private military companies, we have begun since 2011 activity as a private military company which radically differs from private security companies.
“The task of a private security company is to protect some object or be a bodyguard for a person. The spectrum of our services and our functional obligations is much broader. We operate with weapons outside of the Russian Federation, breaking neither the laws of the Russian Federation nor the laws of the host country. The fact is that the laws of other countries with respect to weaponry are more robust than corresponding Russian law. Russian law on weaponry does not permit fully using a weapon to perform any particular tasks. The laws abroad are more robust in that we have the opportunity officially to buy a weapon outside such limits, figuratively speaking on Malta, and to obtain a license and operate within the legislation of that country where we are located. Therefore we understand that for us the state is not necessary, and we precisely trace that gray boundary line where the law passes into lawlessness”.
About working with domestic and foreign clients:
“Our clients are not just Russian companies, but also foreign ones. They come under various flags. At sea it is so convenient — this can be flagged under Panama, Belize, and other countries. Likewise we also protect Russian vessels, Russian research vessels. Therefore, in principle, any interested country can employ us within the law.”
“A person who has seen death will appreciate life”
Oleg Krinitsyn about interaction with the state:
“A private military company is an instrument for continuation of policy of the state. And where there is not always an advantage and it is not always expedient to use armed forces at various political moments or financial moments, or some temporary parameters, foreign countries have already been actively using these private military companies who are seemingly private businesses but work under state contract. Correspondingly, they are not military personnel and are not included in the list of lost military personnel. For example, in Iraq for every thousand lost American military personnel there were about 1,700 lost contractors, i.e., employees of private military companies. But they are not included in general lists of losses. This is convenient for the state”.
About the thin line between mercenaries and ChVK:
“We are not at war – this comes under the article “mercenarism”. There is an precise definition of who is a mercenary. If we are not citizens of this country but a third country, if we are not combatants, if we receive remuneration higher than soldiers of this country in conducting combat operations, then we come under the definition of “mercenaries”. But if in providing security and protection of any strategically important object abroad, an attack is made on us, we are obligated according to the contract, agreement, and law, to take measures to protect the object and the life of ourselves and immediately the client’s. Here is that gray line where the person who is engaged in security transfers to active response operations and counterattacks. And if, let us say, using this moment in fact, if there were in Syria 10-20,000 employees of private military Russian companies who would work in the interests of the Russian state, naturally I am convinced that the course of history would be reversed, not just in Syria but also in Libya.”
“We are the only the supplier of safety for the United Nations in Russia”
Oleg Krinitsyn on the salary of ChVK employees:
“In a ChVK, in our company there are two levels of employees. The first level of employees is permanent, and is those who ensure its functioning: lawyers, accountants, and operational managers. Also there is a variable component coming in to execute the contract. Naturally, they have a different salary. Some have a stable salary, and some a salary that depends on the complexity and danger in executing the contract. But I will say that in any case our employees receive more than do officers in the Armed Forces at the rank of lieutenant colonel or colonel. I consider that the people who professionally perform the operation and risk their life should receive serious money. Naturally, we do not reach that level which the American principals offer to the fighters of private military companies; we suppose that at the time they received $500 per day in Iraq, and about $300 a day if in the “green zone” in Baghdad.
“In the same place, our Russians working for the foreign companies received less, by an order of magnitude. Naturally, the Pentagon is paying the contracts. The notorious Blackwater company had turnover about $700,000 annually, which grew after the contract with the Pentagon to $10 billion. It is clear that whoever orders the music dances to this music. Correspondingly, we are not able to pay such money, but I will tell you that for 12 days of vessel escort, employees receive approximately $2,500. Also, I pay for their flight there and back, and insurance of $250,000 for each person. I treat people quite scrupulously — I am prepared to lose a weapon, I am prepared to lose anything at all, but human life is very important”.
About the methods of operation of the American ChVK:
“A private military company is that organism, that structure, which is engaged in ensuring operations of troops. Americans have a 1.7 ratio of losses relative to military personnel. But it is necessary to consider that tactics for conducting warfare by the American army are first carpet bombing and powerful artillery attack, and then after this come the troops. If they encounter resistance, a fresh start is made, and everything is leveled to the ground: both the village, and the fighters, and women, and goats — everything that comes under a shell.
“It is necessary to understand that when regular troops move on, they leave behind them a certain empty buffer zone. Behind the troops is a private military company which conducts mopping-up operations, but this is very dangerous, and it is natural that in the rear there are guerrilla groups which execute attacks and therefore many people perish”.