Wagner offshoot “Convoy”
Crimean governor keeps his own mercenary force
03/26/2023 11:33 am
A Russian exile medium reports that the Crimean governor has his own militia. However, the group called “Convoy” has existed for a long time and has connections to Wagner boss Prigozhin.
According to an article, the Russian governor on the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, has set up his own private military company called “Convoy”. The Russian exile medium “Important Stories” reportedthe head of the group was Konstantin Pikalov, a close associate of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group.
“Convoy” is a relatively new military company with 300 fighters. On her Telegram channel she shares texts about “strong orthodox Russia”, about Ukrainian “satanists” and conspiracy theories, “how the Rockefellers bought Ukraine’s water supply and are now ‘using a special chemical composition to paralyze the parts of the brain responsible for the identification of a person'”.
However, “Convoy” isn’t that new: what’s new is the role that the troupe plays for the Russian Crimean governor Aksjonov – or the role that he himself would like to play with the help of the mercenaries. According to the Bellingcat research collective, a military company with this name has been around since 2015.
“The Colonel” was already working for Prigozhin
Bellingcat reported 2020 about Pikalow and his connection to “Convoy”. Accordingly, Pikalow was deployed for Russia and for the Wagner group in Africa, first in Madagascar and later in the Central African Republic. According to Bellingcat, deployments of Pikalow in Syria and Ukraine are possible, but cannot be proven with certainty. He was known as “the Colonel” as well as by his combat name “Masai”, which according to “Important Stories” he still uses. Unlike in his time in Africa, he now appears in public, even if not under his real name, but as “Masai”. A report by Russian television showed him as the “commander” of the “assault and reconnaissance unit ‘Convoy'”.
The mercenaries of the “Convoy” group are to be deployed in the Kherson region north of Crimea. In March reported Russian television, Crimean governor Aksjonov regularly visits the troops at the front. “This is Aksyonov’s private military company,” said a former mercenary, according to the group Important Stories. The complete command consists of former Wagner employees who have known each other for a long time.
The exact relationship between Pikalov and Prigozhin remains unclear both in the current article of “Important Stories” and in the Bellingcat research. He was or is an employee of the Wagner boss. According to Bellingcat, “Masai” aka Pikalov arrived in the Central African Republic in July 2018 – about three weeks before three Russian journalists who wanted to investigate the role of Russian mercenary forces in the country were murdered there. When he was deployed to the Central African Republic, he was seen “as a representative of the Russian Defense Ministry and/or the Kremlin,” according to the Bellingcat article. In emails, Wagner employees described him as the only person in the Central African Republic who spoke to Prigozhin without fear and on an equal footing.