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Russia’s Use of Private Military Companies to Advance Foreign Policy Goals

Thu, Dec 19, 2019, 4:30pm - 5:30pm

Better Understanding Russian Use of Mercenaries to Advance Foreign Policy Goals — Presentation

You are cordially invited to a presentation on the topic:
Russia’s Use of Private Military Companies to Advance Foreign Policy Goals
Prof. Ethan Burger, Esquire

Thursday, December 19th
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, D.C.


About the lecture: International law prohibits the recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries. Mercenaries do not enjoy the rights of armed combatants such as to be treated as prisoners of war pursuant to Geneva Convention Norms. Notably, the Russian Criminal Code provides that the recruitment, training, financing, or supplying of mercenaries, and also the use of them in armed conflicts or hostilities is a crime.

Nonetheless, the Russian Government has deployed private organizations such as the Wagner Group to advance its foreign policy goals in Ukraine, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela, and elsewhere. Sometimes these forces play a decisive role in shifting the battlefield or political balance in limited conflicts.

The Wagner Group and similar organizations are now engaged in supporting friendly regimes, securing rights to raw materials, and undermining certain governments. It is important that US National Security Managers not exaggerate the effectiveness of these forces when determining appropriate policies to pursue.

In this lecture, IWP Adjunct Professor Ethan S. Burger will discuss the practical domestic Russian and international consequences of its outsourcing and/or privatizing these traditional state functions.

About the speaker: Ethan S. Burger is a Washington-D.C.-based international attorney and educator with a background in cybersecurity, transnational financial crime, and Russian legal matters. He has been a full-time faculty member at the American University (School of International Service — Transnational Crime Prevention Center) and the University of Wollongong (Australia) (Faculty of Law — Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention), and as well as an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and Washington College of Law. He has taught about cybersecurity as a Visiting Professor at Vilnius University on a grant from the Fulbright Foundation and will be teaching a course during the Fall Semester at IWP on the International Law Governing Cyber Operations. Mr. Burger earned his J.D. at the Georgetown University Law Center, A.B. from Harvard University, and obtained a Certificate in Cybersecurity Strategy from Georgetown University. He will be teaching a course about the international law governing cyber-operations at the IWP during the Spring 2020 Semester.

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