VEGA Strategic Services (also Vegacy) is a rather shadowy organization hailing from Ukraine and supporting the Maduro regime in Venezuela. In 2011, the group was founded in Ukraine by members of elite special forces unites from Ukraine and Russia. In 2012, it moved to Cyprus changing the name to “Vegacy Strategic Services.” (Source) In recent months, photos have been surfacing of what appears to be Vega operators training Venezuelan forces.
Key Judgment 1:
It is clear that Venezuelan forces are receiving Russian/Chinese weaponry and equipment, as well as foreign training support from what appears to be VEGA Strategic Services operators.
- In the photos below, the trainers for the National Bolivarian Guard’s Rapid Reaction Units were confirmed to be VEGA operators by a now deleted tweeted from the Venezuelan military. (Source)
- Trainers, presumably VEGA, featured in a released video appear to have Russian PKP/PKM customized light machine guns, as well as the Russian battle helmet LSHZ-1+.(Source & Source) Also included in the video are clips of RRU soldiers with QBZ-97A rifles – most likely sourced from China.
- These types of incursions into Venezuela from foreign operators are not rare it has been confirmed that the Wagner Group has previously operated in Venezuela. (Source & Source)
Key Judgment 2:
It is realistically probable that VEGA operatives are in Venezuela on a training/protection rotation and are not in a combat support role to Venezuelan forces.
- VEGA’s past operations in Syria appearing to only be in training/security posture as well as the evidence now supports that they primarily operate in a training function for other forces.
- The group’s director Anatoly Smolin also owns a company named Legat Corps that primarily offers Russian-based private security and guard services. Smolin has also posted for job offers in countries such as the UAE for translator and administrator roles for this company. (Source) Given this, is it plausible that VEGA may be the foreign and paramilitary security wing of Legat, and operates in cleary more hostile and robust environments.
Key Judgment 3:
It is highly likely that Venezuela is relying on VEGA operatives to train their new units in response to Operation Gideon, and to curb any subsequent operations of that nature more efficiently.
- Following the failed operation (named Operation Gideon) led by former US soldiers working under a US PMC with Venezuelan dissidents, tensions with the United States and Western world grew. (<a href=”http://Source) The operation was an attempt to overthrow the Maduro government. The United States denied any direct intervention in the operation. (Source)
- Russia criticized the US’ response to the operation and even asked the United Nations to look at the matter as an attempt to destabilize the region and a threat to peace. (Source & Source)
- Given the close diplomatic ties as well as the previous presences of other Russian PMC groups, it is highly likely that this event strengthen the ties between Russia and Venezuela, but also gave Venezuela more incentive to allow highly-specialized VEGA operators to train their new elite divisions.