The Moscow Times : Wagner ‘Out of Depth’ in Mozambique
Mozambique’s tough conditions overwhelm Russian mercenaries with poor salaries.
Pjotr Sauer – The Moscow Times – November 19, 2019
Mozambique is one of the most difficult environments for troops in the world. Soldiers have to adapt to hybrid warfare in a very special kind of terrain.
Unlike African troops, the Russian mercenaries dispatched by the Wagner Group have proven to be ineffective when operating in the bush.
Unlike its African counterpart, Wagner is spending on state of the art technologies and pays low salaries to the mercenaries on the ground. For example, Wagner purchased expensive drones, which can’t actually be used over Mozambique’s thick forests. By contrast, locally established companies pay their troops higher wages and often adopt strict codes of conduct – which entail the costs of training their employees on what can and what shouldn’t be done. These salaries and training leave little room for high-end technologies.
Two of the main actors in sub-Saharan Africa submitted offers to the government of Mozambique when it looked for a Private Military Company (PMC) to support operations against the Islamic State in the northern Cabo Delgado region. Black Hawk, from South Africa and OAM, an Australian company with a strong record in the region. They employ skilled and experienced former South African soldiers who require a better pay than their younger Russian counterparts.
OAM said that an average salary for a soldier it sends to countries such as Mozambique would range from $15,000 to $25,000 per month. This is an extremely high wage with regards to local prices but also in comparison with the Wagner Group. On average, a young mercenary working for Wagner can expect to earn between $1,800 and $4,700 each month.
The mechanisms underlying the financing of the Wagner group fundamentally differ from those used by more traditional PMCs. While they present their customer with a bill listing every expenses of the operations, including salaries, material and equipment as well as their margin, Wagner provides its customers very light invoices. The group then cashes in by taking control of natural resources in the country – which means that in the end, the activities of Wagner are by far more expensive for the local economy than a few high salaries for well trained soldiers who know the environment in which they are dispatched.