Monday Feb 27, 2023
Monday Feb 27, 2023
On this edition of Parallax Views, David Isenberg, a long time independent researcher into the subject of PMCs (private military companies) and PMSCs (private military and security companies) and bloggers at the Isenberg Institute of Strategic Satire, joins us to discuss his article "The Rise and Fall of the Mozart Group".
The Mozart Group was founded amidst the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine by two former U.S. Marine colonels, Andrew Milburn, at one time the Deputy Commander of Special Operations Command Central, and Andrew Bain, who since leaving the military has become a Ukraine-based businessman. Composed of Western military veterans, the Mozart Group sought to assist in efforts during the war by serving as a private military company that offered military training and evacuations. Named in part as a cheeky reference to Russia's infamous Wagner Group, the Mozart Group, in Isenberg's word, "positioned itself as the reverse, good-guy version" of said group (though, as Isenberg notes in the beginning of our conversation the Wagner Group and the Mozart Group are different in terms of the actions they take and should not be considered simple Western Vs. Russian versions of each other).
Although the Mozart Group garnered a great deal of positive press in the past year as a humanitarian group helping Ukraine, it has since shuttered it's operation amidst a thorny lawsuit between co-founders Bain and Milburn. In said lawsuit, Milburn has been accused of misrepresenting the Mozart Group as a non-profit, 501(c)3 charity to journalists despite it being registered as a for-profit LLC. (limited liability company) business. The complex lawsuit also includes complaints Milburn soliciting for donations/funding that went into Milburn's personal or other accounts rather than the Mozart Group. Another issue that comes up with regards to the lawsuit is Milburn hiring a Ukrainian woman he met on a dating app to work for the Mozart Group and paying her a $90,000 annual salary that far exceeded that of other Ukrainian-based employees.
On the other hand, Milburn-supporter Jeffrey Carr of the Inside Cyber Warfare Substack, recently accused Andrew Bain of having ties to Russia and the Taliban as well as war profiteering. In this conversation, Isenberg offers his thougths on both the lawsuit against Milburn as well as his thoughts on the accusations Carr made against Andrew Bain. Isenberg also discusses some juicy details that he can't discuss in-too-much detail at this time that did not make it into the article and indicate that the Mozart Group was seeking to move away from its specific work in regards in Ukraine and becoming a more broadly-focused private military company.
We'll also discuss more broadly the problems/issues surrounding private military companies; lack of regulation/oversight in regards to PMCs; Star Trek and the Ferengi Rule of Acquisition No. 34: “War is good for business"; Erik Prince, Blackwater, and the Iraq War; the Mozart Group vs. the Wagner Group; war profiteering; the problem with mixing charity work and military functions together under one roof; why David doesn't use the term "mercenaries" when talking about PMCs; should Ukraine be concerned about working with PMCs?; was Bain trying to expand the Mozart Group into working in other regions where their services weren't wanted?; and more!
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