Small Wars Journal

In Syria, a Russian Ex-Commando Dies in the Shadows

In Syria, a Russian Ex-Commando Dies in the Shadows by James Marson – Wall Street Journal

Igor Kosoturov died as he fought: in the shadows.

Word of the 45-year-old’s death on a distant Syrian battlefield earlier this month reached his hometown here on the slopes of Russia’s Ural Mountains by a circuitous—and informal—route.

There was no official notification, no thanks from a grateful nation. Instead, there was a message from a comrade-in-arms, relayed via fighters in Ukraine, that Mr. Kosoturov was killed in a U.S. airstrike.

A former special-forces soldier in the Russian military who later fought in eastern Ukraine, Mr. Kosoturov was in Syria as a member of a private military company known as the Wagner group, his friends say. According to two Russian officials and a former member, the Wagner group was sent there by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and the most prominent of the 13 Russians indicted this month for interfering in the U.S. presidential election.

Russian law bars private fighters and the funding of their activities. A spokesman for Mr. Prigozhin has previously said Mr. Prigozhin has no relationship to the Wagner group.

Russian former fighters active in both Ukraine and Syria say they fought with such units, which further the Kremlin’s interests but don’t wear Russian uniforms. Their murky status gives the Russian government a measure of deniability over foreign interventions…

Read on.