top of page

The Firing of Bakanov and Venediktova and Wagner Group Lowering its Standards According to UK MoD

July 14-20, 2022 | Issue 12 - EUCOM

Matthew Bauer, Peter Roberto, Elvire Vérant, Craig Connolly, Pètra van de Gevel, EUCOM Team

Manja Vitasovic, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Chief Ivan Bakanov (left) and Ukrainian Prosecutor General


Iryna Venediktova (right)[1]

Date: July 17, 2022

Location: Ukraine

Parties involved: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Chief Ivan Bakanov; SBU office; Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova; Ukraine; Ukrainian government; Ukrainian prosecutor’s office; prosecutorial officials; Ukrainian intelligence agencies; intelligence officials; Ukrainian citizens; Russia; Russian military; Russian collaborators

The event: Zelensky fired Bakanov and Venediktova after losing faith in their abilities to run their offices. Hundreds of Ukrainian officials from the SBU and Prosecutor General’s office are accused of treason for collaborating with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Bakanov’s removal will very likely cause Ukrainian intelligence agencies officials to increase investigations within the SBU office, likely to detect additional treason cases. This will almost certainly increase suspicion of allegiance to Russia within Ukrainian intelligence agencies, very likely reducing communication among intelligence officials to avoid intelligence being disclosed to potential Russian collaborators. Reduced communication and trust will very likely delay current intelligence operations, like intelligence gathering on Russia and intelligence sharing with allies, likely reducing actionable intelligence for Ukraine. Because Ukraine will likely have less intelligence on Russian military operations, Ukraine’s counteroffensive strategy against Russia will likely be weakened.

  • Venediktova’s removal will very likely delay the prosecution of criminal cases, like war crimes in the Russia-Ukraine war, as Zelensky will very likely take time to choose a trustworthy Prosecutor General. A delayed war crime prosecutions, like civilian torture, rape, and murder, will likely increase their occurrence, as criminals will likely perceive these crimes as unpunished. The increased insecurity will very likely lead Ukrainian civilians to lose confidence in the government’s ability to protect them, likely increasing refugee flows outside of Ukraine.

Date: July 18, 2022

Location: UK

Parties involved: UK Ministry of Defence; Russia; Russian frontline forces; Wagner Group; new Wagner recruits; convicted criminals; blacklisted individuals; Ukraine; Ukrainian forces; Ukrainian civilians

The event: According to the UK Ministry of Defence, Wagner Group, a private military contractor which has supported Russia’s war in Ukraine and allegedly committed war crimes, is now lowering its recruitment standards. After Wagner suffered heavy casualties, the group will hire convicts and formerly blacklisted individuals to reinforce Russian frontline forces in the Donbas region and will receive very limited training.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The new Wagner recruits are unlikely to adhere to international humanitarian law on Russia’s frontline in the Donbas, given the recruits' criminal history. The recruits will very likely increase the Wagner group's war crimes like rape, torture, and murder of Ukrainian civilians, likely increasing the number of Ukrainian civilian casualties and fear among civilians in Russian-occupied territories. This will likely increase civilian displacement to Ukrainian-held areas to find safety and avoid being targeted by new Wagner recruits.

  • The new Wagner recruits will very likely reduce Wagner’s combat effectiveness in Ukraine due to their limited military training. Recruits will unlikely have basic battle skills, like familiarity with high-caliber weapons, intra-unit communication, and combat situational awareness, likely resulting in unsuccessful attacks in the Donbas region. Casualties among recruits will likely increase as they will very likely engage with Ukrainian forces on the frontline, likely reducing the effectiveness of Russia’s overall military operation in Ukraine.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[2] Ukraine’s Zelenskyy fires top spy chief and prosecutor general, Politico, July 2022,

[3] Russia’s Ukraine offensive now relying on a private mercenary group that’s hiring convicts, UK says, CNBC, July 2022,



bottom of page