Wagner Group uses social media to recruit new members

Research published by Logically found terrorist organization Wagner recruitment information posted in 16 languages including Vietnamese and Polish.

Russia’s mercenary terrorist organization Wagner Group is allegedly using social media platforms Facebook and Twitter to recruit new members from all over the world. 

A study published by Logically, a London-based disinformation research group, identified more than 50 examples of Wagner recruitment information being shared in 16 languages on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.

In one post written in English on Twitter, the user boasts fighters can make up to 240,000 rubles per month (2,700 euros) – a common propaganda technique used to recruit new members. 

“That’s without the bonuses that can be earned on achieving success,” says the Twitter post. 

The mercenary group is apparently looking to fill many positions from IT to medical roles as well as actual foot soldiers. 

Another post on Twitter in Spanish also uses the same language to convince people to join, promoting “life insurance” and working for “a team focused on efficiency and winning.”

The Cube also saw similar posts in French, Vietnamese and Indonesian.

These job adverts garnered nearly 120,000 views across Twitter and Facebook over the last few months, according to the study. 

There are other startling elements to this online recruitment campaign including the reactions to these posts according to Kyle Walter, Head of Research at Logically.

“A lot of these posts were being shared in languages that you wouldn’t necessarily expect like Vietnamese, even some in Polish,” Walter told Euronews. 

“The reactions to these posts were mostly positive. A lot of people were asking questions about how they can further join the Wagner Group or saying that they support the group in general.”

While the researchers couldn’t directly attribute these messages to Wagner, the style and arguments presented are very similar to the group’s recruitment process in Russia. 

Wagner Group is accused of widespread human rights abuses and other atrocities, especially in Ukraine, alongside other places on the African continent.

Two Russian former convicts who claim they served as commanders for the Wagner mercenary group recently confessed to murdering hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, including children.

Since they’re not considered an international terrorist organisation, Wagner’s online activity is in a grey zone, according to Logically.

“This allows the group to be able to flourish online, which can be very concerning,”  Because regular everyday people can directly reach out via Telegram or via WhatsApp to representatives of the Wagner Group and find themselves in a very dangerous position,” explained Kyle Walter. 

“I think it’s something that we need to consider more going forward,” he added.

Even before the Russia-Ukraine war, Wagner was involved in fighting throughout Central Africa, where it can be found protecting more odious regimes in exchange for mining rights.

But the organisation rose to prominence in recent months after offering Russian convicts a chance at freedom in exchange for fighting in Ukraine.

Wagner boss Yevheniy Prigozhin claimed the group has since then suffered losses of up to 20,000 mercenaries.

How Russian mercenary Wagner Group uses social media to recruit new members around the world

Wagner Group uses Twitter and Facebook

Russian terrorist organization Wagner Group is using American social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to recruit new members around the world

Facing mounting losses in Ukraine, Russian mercenaries have been using the American social media companies to enlist fresh blood.

Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group has been using Twitter and Facebook to recruit medics, drone operators and even psychologists to aid fighting operations, including in Ukraine, according to exclusive research seen by POLITICO. 

Job ads for Wagner, which has mercenaries operating in several countries, have reached nearly 120,000 views on the two social media platforms over the last ten months, according to Logically, a U.K. disinformation-focused research group. 

Sixty posts in dozens of languages – including French, Vietnamese and Spanish – shared information about fighting, IT, driving and medical positions apparently available with Wagner. They also included contact phone numbers, Telegram accounts and touted monthly salaries of 240,000 rubles (€‎2,800) with benefits including health care. 

While the researchers couldn’t directly attribute the messages to Wagner with total certainty, the posts carry the footprint of the militia and its supporters.

“We only know that this is using the exact same language as previously verified Wagner accounts on places like Telegram or VK,” said Kyle Walter, head of research for Logically. VK is a popular Russian social media.

It isn’t clear what success the recruitment campaigns have had. Yet the incitement to violence – and promotion of Russian attacks against Ukraine — almost certainly represent breaches of Facebook and Twitter’s separate terms of service that outlaw such material.

Separate analysis from a Western government official, shared with POLITICO, confirmed that at least two phone numbers included in these social media posts linked directly either to the Wagner Group or to Russia’s intelligence service.

“Some of these efforts are actual propaganda films in combination with phone numbers so that you can directly contact representatives of the Wagner Group,” said Walter. “As we continue to view Wagner as a more and more dangerous threat in the world, the fact that these posts are circulating online is very concerning.”

Twitter responded to a request for comment with an automated poop emoji. The social media company last week quit a European Union charter to fight disinformation. The bloc’s new content law to stamp out illegal content and falsehoods, the Digital Services Act (DSA), is also set to enter into force on August 25. Serious violations of the law could lead to fines of up to 6 percent of a company’s global revenue.

“We designated the Wagner Group as a dangerous organization, meaning it cannot have a presence on our platforms,” said a Meta spokesperson. They added that the company also removes content containing “praise or substantive support for Wagner when we become aware of it, including posts that aim to recruit for them.”

Wagner is active in conflicts in Mali and Central Africa but has been particularly high-profile fighting for Russia since it invaded Ukraine last year. The militia recently led much of the heavy fighting in Bakhmut, the eastern Ukrainian town which has seen brutal attritional battles for territory.  

The group has lost some 20,000 fighters in Ukraine, according to its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, and has been trying to attract new recruits. 

One post in French boasted that Wagner employees get “paid time off, healthcare, well-paying jobs and the opportunity to work all over the world.” A salary of 240,000 rubles and a “good bonus for results” was advertised.

“Join us now to defend Russia’s honor and a multipolar world!” read another post in French on Facebook. A third Facebook post in French promoted “life insurance” and working for “a team focused on efficiency and winning.” 

“Yevgeny Prigozhin directly from Bakhmut, invites volunteers from 22 to 55 years old to work at PMC Wagner!” read part of a tweet in Indonesian.

The Wagner Group and several of its leaders have been targeted by U.S. and EU sanctions, with some countries taking further steps to curb its activities. The U.S. in January labeled the group as a transnational criminal organization responsible for widespread human rights abuses. French lawmakers voted in May to designate Wagner as a terrorist entity.

The research on the job ads was conducted over a one-month period from mid-April to May 19 and collected posts on Facebook and Twitter as far as July 2022. At the time the research was closed, 58 of the 60 posts remained up (two were removed by Facebook after being contacted by POLITICO).

“They identify tactics that work and I think once they saw that they could get away with posting certain content on these platforms, people just continued to post more,” said Walter.

Wagner Group Using Facebook, Twitter to Recruit New Members

Russia’s Wagner Group uses Twitter and Facebook to hunt new recruits


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