Joana de Deus Pereira

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External publications and podcasts


“We must remember that the Wagner group’s modus operandi involves discreet operations, often supported by sophisticated means of disinformation. Therefore, the absence of evidence is not equivalent to proof of absence,” Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D. told Público’s Ivo Neto, recalling the Russian flags waved by supporters of the coup in Niamey, Niger. Article published on 5 August.

EU Observer

On the ongoing putsch in Niger, Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D, RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow noted that the events show signs of “Wagner modus operandi all over”. Article published on 27 July.

The i paper

“While the developments of the past week have certainly created turbulence within Wagner, they have not extinguished its operational capacity entirely, and I believe this situation appears highly fluid, with different areas showing varying degrees of disruption to Wagner’s recruitment activities,” RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D told The i Paper. Article published on 6 July.

Business Insider

“If Prigozhin decides to step back from the group, it will continue without him, (…) there are at least 25 paramilitary organizations other than Wagner currently operating in Russia, some of which have links to Russia’s Ministry of Defence,” RUSI Europe’s Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D told Business Insider’s Sophia Ankel. “Wagner has had many faces. Before Prigozhin, there were others,” Joana de Deus Pereira noted. “It’s very easy to take the place or to put a new face in front of this organisation.” Article published on 2 July.

SIC Notícias

How can we interpret the latest statements made by the Wagner Group, who are these mercenaries, what are their aims and what are the effects on the war of the 48 hours that shook Russia? RUSI Europe’s Joana de Deus Pereira analysed these questions on SIC Notícias’s Midnight Express show, hosted by Ângela Silva and Ricardo Costa. Joana was joined by Livia Franco, Francisco Miguel G. P. Proença Garcia and Bruno Cardoso Reis. Interview conducted on 30 June (in Portuguese).

The Times

“There is a whole strategy connected to companies that are affiliated to Prigozhin and the Russian state that are operating in Africa and not only those that relate to security operations. There is a whole machinery that connects African influencers paid by Prigozhin to promote Russia in Africa. This is a living ecosystem that will continue to grow, but probably with another name,” RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D told The Times. Article published on 29 June.


Prigozhin was “building a political persona in a kind of competition with Putin, to prove who was the ‘most patriotic, the best Russian, the flagship of Russian values’. [He sought] to be portrayed as a symbol of true patriotism and of the common soldier of Russia, the one that suffers on the field, the one that has blood on his hands,” RUSI Europe’s Senior Research Fellow Joana de Deus Pereira told TIME’s Vera Bergengruen. “Wagner’s relative successes tipped the balance of power in Prigozhin’s favor [and] gave him room to openly criticize the Kremlin’s strategy in the conflict,” Joana de Deus Pereira noted. “It was something unimaginable just months ago.” Article published on 27 June 2023. 

Al Jazeera

“It is crucial to exercise caution and critically analyse the information” coming out of Russia from the past 24 hours. “Nothing is what it seems, and what it seems is not frequently what it is,” RUSI Europe’s Joana de Deus Pereira told Al Jazeera English. Article published on 25 June 2023. 

BBC Radio 4

RUSI Europe’s Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D. talked to BBC Radio 4 about Prigozhin’s background, his motivations, connections, and possible developments. Programme aired on 24 June 2023. 


“Wagner Group’s Yevgeny Prigozhin is carving out a role for himself as a champion of the common soldier, voicing criticisms against the military elite, and positioning himself as a ‘healer’ of Russia’s past traumas, especially the ones related to the fall of the USSR—especially the ones related to loss of territory and humiliation,” Joana de Deus Pereira, RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow, told Newsweek’s Isabel van Brugen. Article published on 23 June 2023. 

Sky News Daily – with Niall Paterson

“Originally, the Wagner Group was offering services [such as intelligence gathering, training, and support for logistics] that were more related to the ones that private security companies provide”, Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D told Sky News’s Niall Paterson. The Wagner Group became more visible when “Prigozhin had this big window of opportunity during the annexation of Crimea. (…) There was always this blurriness between what they did, and what the Russian military did”, Joana de Deus Pereira added. However, “we cannot say that the Russian military are using the mercenaries, this would be an acknowledgement that they recognise them as partners on the ground”, Joana de Deus Pereira noted. Interview aired on 15 May 2023. 

EU Observer

“[According to experts], the violent chaos in Sudan might well end with Russia building a strategic naval base there, as warlords court foreign sponsors,” the EU Observer writes. “They [Russia] already have a base in Syria very close by and I don’t doubt they’ll build this one very soon,” Dr Joana de Deus Pereira told EUobserver. Article published on 19 April 2023.

BBC The World Tonight

“Russia’s interest in Sudan is to have a stable situation as quickly as possible, because the current conflict disrupts the gold mining and other important sources of financing for Russia,” Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D, RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow told BBC’s “The World Tonight”. These sources of financing are funding Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. “We also shouldn’t forget that Russia is a major supplier of arms to Africa, including to Sudan,” Joana added. Interview aired on 18 April 2023. ​

BBC Newsnight

“Wagner has been in Sudan since 2017, brought to the country by Omar al-Bashir, with the clear objective of buidling a military base in Port Sudan at the Red Sea and at the same time operating in exchange for mining concessions in the gold mine areas,” Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D told BBC Newsnight. Supposedly, these efforts were ‘paying’ for Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, Joana added. Interview aired on 17 April 2023.

Foreign Policy

Russia’s disintegration is “highly improbable,” Dr Joana de Deus Pereira, RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow told Foreign Policy’s Anchal Vohra. Even such insinuations in the West will increase “Putin’s appeal,” Joana added, giving some perspective on how nationalist Russians might see them. Article published on 17 April 2023.

Foreign Policy

Prigozhin is not only “doing the dirty work on the battlefield,” but also presenting himself as a national face during the war, RUSI Europe’s Dr Joana de Deus Pereira told Foreign Policy’s Anchal Vohra. “This is a political stunt that I don’t think the Kremlin had thought about. He wants to increase his political influence and enter the Kremlin. The elite will never accept that,” Joana said. Article published on 1 March 2023.

BBC4 – The Briefing Room

“Prigozhin used to be a tool for the Kremlin, but he has now become visible. And visibility in the eyes of the Kremlin isn’t a positive thing, especially when they aren’t in control of it”, Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D, RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow told BBC Radio 4’s David Aaronovitch on The Briefing Room. Interview aired on 23 February 2023.

Foreign Policy

How has the relationship between the Kremlin and the Wagner Group changed since the launch of the Russian aggression against Ukraine? How is Yevgeny Prigozhin building his political character? How is Vladimir Putin reacting to Prigozhin’s communications? “Now, Prigozhin has become much more dangerous in terms of the political persona he wants to be,” Joana de Deus Pereira Ph.D, RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow told Newsweek’s Isabel van Brugen. Article published on 6 February 2023.

BBC Newsnight

What is the Wagner Group, and what are its goals and methods? Listen to RUSI Europe Senior Research Fellow Joana de Deus Pereira’s answers to these questions on the BBC Newsnight show of 11 January 2023.

Europe Calling Podcast

Episode 5: Security and Schengen’s open borders: a picture of increasing threat with matching drive for reform
The fifth episode the European Commission’s podcast Europe Calling series tackles these and wider security issues with Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, responsible for Promoting the European Way of Life with an interview by leading security expert Joana de Deus Pereira.

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