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Private military companies in Russia: experience and prospects of use
Material posted: Publication date: 06-11-2013

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Armed forces of the Russian Federation are undergoing major changes. In recent years, is actively used and processed the experience of the advanced military States. First of all, we are talking about the concept of Settentrionali, the study of the leading doctrines in military terms, foreign countries and other more private issues. Does not remain without attention and the phenomenon of the use of private military companies (hereinafter – PMCs) and the privatization of the military sphere, that is, essentially, the transfer to private hands some of the functions of the state of this particular area of state activity.

Recently this issue has become so urgentthat it drew the attention of current Russian President Vladimir Putin. In April 2012, while still Prime Minister, he said that the development of the activities of such companies in the national interests of Russia. In June last year the Deputy Mitrofanov introduced the bill on state regulation of creation and activity of PMCs, but was rejected.

However, rapidly current changes in the world forced the state to seek a variety of ways to respond to new challenges. One way is the involvement of private entities in previously closed military area. In connection with the foregoing, we found it important and relevant to consider the opportunities and challenges in the use of PMCs by the Russian government, paying attention to the problems that arise in Western countries due to the involvement of these structures.

Thus, the aim of the presented work is the identification of the need for PMCs in Russia, the prospects for their use and range of tasks they can solve.

To achieve this goal we have resolved a number of key tasks:

  • to define what constitutes a PMC, their legal status and peculiarities of activities;
  • to identify the main factors that contributed to the development and dissemination of PMC;
  • give the classification of PMCs and delimit their activities;
  • to determine the current situation on the market of private military services in Russia;
  • based on the analysis of the causes, strengths and weaknesses of the use of PMCs advanced militarily by States to assess the need of the Russian state in such structures and prospects of their use in our country.

The object of the study – private military companies. The subject of research is the use by Russia of private military companies.

The range of sources on the subject matter can be described as limited. This is because the nature of the matter under consideration. The PMC, being commercial entities, have the right not to disclose publicly much of the data. However, because the use of PMCs by States is not a business in its purest form, it allows you to get more information. In addition, documents in international law, official documents, news reports, information from the official sites themselves PMCs help to dive deeply into the context of the question.

Publications on the topic of the emergence, operation and use of private military companies in a large number appear in Russia in the second half of 2000-ies. A significant part of the Russian authors writing on this topic, primarily interested in the legal aspects. However, the problems of using PMCs in military operations is also interested in Russian authors. In recent years, in Russia there are more publications on this topic. These works and the works by Russian military theorists, such as, for example, V. Slipchenko, or E. Messner, help to look more deeply at the issue before us. In the presented work uses and publications of foreign authors, which understandably began to turn to issues related to the PMC and the so-called "privatization of war" earlier than in Russia.

For the purposes of this work used their own working definition of PMCs, based on the language of Russian authors. Under the PMC refers to non-state commercial entities that provide the customer (in our case – state) military, security, consulting, logistics or other services, in conditions of military conflicts and/or hostilities.

During the work, we demonstrated the experience and the main problems of using PMCs foreign States and Russia. On the basis of the facts set forth is a number of conclusions.

To date, the PMC has received a wide circulation in the world, performing a wide range of services for various customers (including States). While they operate in different regions of the world. Mostly PMCs are in demand in conflict zones: the middle East, Africa, Latin America, etc.

The legal status of PMCs and their employees is a matter of serious debate. Moreover, it is not always possible to distinguish between employees of PMCs and mercenaries from the point of view of the law expressed concern that some politicians and public figures. Given the imperfect nature of international law in this sphere, Russia should actively participate in the discussion and development of regulating PMCs laws in international forums, defending their own interests in this area.

The status of PMCs is still in a grey area. Their activities are not reglamentavimo the law, but in fact on the territory of the Russian Federation officially registered and functioning of the PMC. To do this, they are not registered as private security companies, but also as a consulting company. The largest are considered "Moran Security Group", "RSB Group" and "anti-terror eagle".

The main customers of PMCs are private companies, ship-owners and large enterprises, such as Tatneft, Gazprom, LUKOIL or "inter RAO UES". For information about using the PMC data of the Russian state structures could not be found. Meanwhile, with absolute confidence about the Russian origin of all these PMCs is not possible, as the true beneficiary is not known. The exception is firm "anti-terror eagle", but this assertion is based only on the basis of available public sources.

My own experience of using PMCs the Russian government at the moment does not have, judging by open sources of information. However, this interest in the political leadership of the country exists. The example of large Western countries, and for some time now and China shows that PMCs are playing an increasingly important role in politics and military development of countries in the world. However, this tool was not only effective, but also not harm the interests of Russia, is to comprehend, learn and creatively to process the experience that is already there.

It is obvious that in such a big country as Russia, the PMC will not be able to replace the traditional army, so the politicians in further consideration of the question of the involvement of PMCs it is necessary to clearly define the goals and objectives that can address these patterns, not to get them into addiction. In this respect, in our opinion, should carefully study the experience of China, which actively uses PMCs to carry out their policy in the first place on the African continent. Unfortunately, to date, the Chinese experience in the application of PMCs is little studied in Russia, although it should pay attention when developing the relevant law. PMCs can become a subtle tool that would help the Russian Federation to conduct its own policy.

The reasons that States are increasingly resorting to the use of PMCs, pretty much. It is not only and not so much that changing the way of war and strategy, tactics and concepts of reference. In modern conditions ever more important is the attitude of society to losses by the army of the state in the war – no matter what the war aims and causes. This works for our country, a society which is sensitive to the participation of its army in military conflicts, due to the tragic experience of Afghanistan and Chechnya.

At the same time, the level and number of threats in recent decades to grow and become more unpredictable. To counter, they can not do without the use of military force. Including to solve this complex problem States found such an unusual method: the use of PMCs. His originality lies in the fact that it is not a traditional method of attracting mercenaries, and not an attempt to create patterns on the principle of the Foreign Legion. By and large this is a purely commercial way, based on the provisions of liberalism: PMCs can exist without contracts from the state, carrying out the orders of private persons, companies and corporations or international organizations; States resort to their services only when there is such a need. And therein lies another important lesson for Russia is to engage the services of PMCs should only be used if really necessary and, as in the case with outsourcing, to release employees from non-core functions.

When the state has a constantly available opportunity to resort to the services of PMCs "on request", to the government easier to achieve the approval of society to send troops abroad. The reason is that you can negotiate the use of a number of soldiers of its own army, but in fact such operations will involve significantly more people. The costs can be reflected in various budget items, and not to consider them only as expenditure of the Ministry of defence or other "power" agencies, the responsibility of which is the conduct of military operations.

Controversial is the question of economic efficiency in the use of PMCs. At least it has not been explored yet. However, it can be done quite logical conclusion: the use of PMCs can be considered cost-effective when carrying out short-term operations, since the benefits of involving private actors is to use their "on demand". The savings is due to the fact that the state does not spend funds on the military, training new soldiers in time of peace. In case the need arises, state in a relatively short time can get their hands on professional fighters, which will provide them with the PMC. In the case of a lengthy operation the advantage of economy of material resources is undermined by the high cost of the contracts with PMCs, compared with the regular army, regardless of the principle of recruitment. In addition, the question of the economic feasibility of the use of PMCs should be considered comprehensively: the market military services can bring significant financial benefits to the Russian budget, if the conditions will be created for their official registration in Russia and not in offshore zones, as is happening today.

The changing nature of war demands that professionals in the military sphere were qualified specialists able to manage and maintain complex high-tech systems that are used in the conditions of contactless wars. Increasingly have to resort to the services of civilian personnel may be employed by PMC. In the wars of the new generation often has to fight against non-state actors. The use of PMCs, which by their nature are similar to the opponent, also can bring benefits, but this issue requires more detailed study.

It is impossible not to recognize the facts of the positive effects of PMCs on a number of issues. However, their use is often not able to solve a number of issues that exist with traditional armies, and sometimes creates new ones.

To date there is no established system of interaction between the army, the personnel of PMCs and companies themselves. There is no formal set of rules of this interaction. While the primary responsibility somehow lies with the military. This question requires further study of the legislators and the military, if you plan to use PMCs on the battlefield, together with the troops.

If Russia will develop a market for PMCs use them for the purposes of a state should develop procedures that preclude the possibility of corruption in Contracting between the agencies and the PMC. Otherwise, a situation may arise when private entities will dictate their terms to the state, it may be "binding to provider". In this regard, it is necessary to study the experience of China, which develops PMCs rather than as commercial entities, but primarily as a tool and guide for their own policies.

Public and civil control over the activities of PMCs largely difficult. It does not provide the transparency necessary to not only avoid corruption, but also to reduce the likelihood of problems lack of control when using private firms with state. You should note that in Russia, where the practice of civilian control has not yet been widely circulated.

Russia needs thoroughly to develop procedures for the regulation of PMCs. A large number of chop, which exist today in the country, will seek to register as PMCs. We must not forget that the main purpose of PMCs as commercial entities is to make profit. This means that often, trying to save money, they can provide their employees with substandard equipment or uniforms – and that's the least of ills, which promises the use of PMCs. To avoid this, you need hard regulation by the state, creation of common rules and policies.

The situation when the state becomes dependent on the specific service provider, are not uncommon as in the case of PMCs, and outsourcing. To avoid this problem is possible if to use differentiated approaches to the issue. This means that the use of PMCs (or outsourcing) should not completely replace the established procedures must be flexible.

Thus, the increased level of utilization of PMCs by States in conducting foreign operations, in General can be called a response to fundamental changes taking place with armies and military budgets of countries using the services of these agencies. Their use can solve a number of typical for today's issues: economic, political, social and purely military.

The main arguments in favor of adopting a law on state regulation of PMCs are: the possibility of extracting economic benefits (including the protection of the interests of domestic companies abroad), obtaining a new tool for solving wide range of tasks. In addition, PMCs in Russia can perform certain social functions, such as the employment of former military personnel. Domestic PMCs today practically do not have access to the world market of military services, and without government support to go on it will not be easy. However, it is necessary to calculate the risks inherent in the use of PMCs. However, with the right approach and strict state control over the activities of PMCs, they can, if not fully eliminate, significantly reduce. To ignore important trends, but blind copying of experience is not conducive to success. All this must be considered the Russian Federation, during the adoption of the law on state control over PMCs. Then the use of PMCs will really serve the national interests of Russia.

Sources and literature

Documents in international law

  1. The Montreux document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for States related to operations of private military and security companies during armed conflict. <>
  2. Protocol additional to the Geneva conventions of taugust 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts <>
  3. International Convention against the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries of 4 December 1989. <>
  4. The international code of conduct for private security companies // Official website Code <>

Information from the official websites of private military companies

  1. Information from the official site of the company "Academi" <>
  2. Information from the official site of the company "Kellog Brown and Root" <>
  3. Information from the official site of the company "Moran Security Group" <>
  4. Information from the official site of the company "RSB Group" <>
  5. Information from the official website of "Antiterror" < >
  6. Information from the official site of the company "Slavonic corps" <>

News resources

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Neelov Vladimir

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