Russian President Vladimir Putin faced a serious threat against his decades-long leadership after a mercenary group took arms against his army.

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner group had taken control of a Russian border town, Rostov, the main base of the Russian Southern Command and a key logistics base for its operations in Ukraine, without firing a shot.

Soon after Prigozhin’s forces raced toward Moscow to topple the Russian military brass, whom they accused of orchestrating the killing of thousands of Wagner forces in Ukraine.

There were reports Prigozhin’s forces turned back to their bases, halting the advance to Moscow just 200 kms away after Belarus negotiated a deal to avoid bloodshed.

Putin allowed the rise of Prigozhin’s Wagner private military group which has turned into a monster like a Frankestein, and only to become a serious problem for Russia.

Putin had turned to Prigozhin, who had employed convicts across the country, when Russia failed to raise an army to fight in Ukraine as many young Russians escaped being drafted to a war they refused to get involved with.

Prigozhin’s Wagner army had found the bloodiest and fiercest battles in Ukraine and other wars in the Middle East and Africa.

But after it turned against Russia, there was still uncertainty how Putin would deal with the Prigozhin’s mercenary army.

Using mercenaries was not unique in Russia. History would show “soldiers of fortune” had played key roles in wars from the time Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire to wars in medieval Europe as well as in ancient China and Japan.

The United States, the United Kingdom and countries in Western Europe, like France, have used mercenaries in their wars in distant lands.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington had deployed private military groups from Blackwater and Dynacorp, even hiring Filipinos who are members of the security services to serve as guards in US military bases.

Although the US claimed that these members of private military groups were deployed only for defense purposes, the mercenaries could have been involved in some offensive operations to hunt down insurgents, including the Taliban.

Some of the worst atrocities in conflicts were done by members of the private military groups.

The Spanish colonizers hired Japanese samurais to pacify revolting Filipinos during the early years of its 300-year rule.

In modern-day Philippines, an army within an Army existed during dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s iron-fisted rule.

In 1976, a Philippine Constabulary sergeant, Leboro Jangao, assigned in Mindanao, organized a fraternal group to look after the welfare of its members as the public loathed the military, at that time, due to widespread abuses during the Martial Law period.

Jangao, known in the organization as “Abraham,” the father of the group called El Diablo, soon recruited in the army and civilians to expand the fraternal group.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte was among those recruited when he was still a prosecutor in Davao City.

Former national police chiefs Avelino Razon and Guillermo Eleazar were recruited to the fraternal organization.

Lawmakers Francis Escudero and Lito Lapid and former senator Manny Pacquiao also became part of the group.

When the existence of the El Diablo was exposed by veteran journalist Joe de Vera of the Manila Bulletin in the 1980s, the group changed its name to Guardians Brotherhood. It already had 25,000 members in the 100,000-member military organization.

Its members supported Gen. Fidel V. Ramos when he led the Armed Forces in the EDSA uprising that topped the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

But, soon after, the threat posed by an army within an Army came when Col. Gregorio Honasan tried to use the Guardians to seize power from Corazon Aquino. Honasan had created his own organization called Guardians Foundation, exploiting its members who took part in his several failed attempts to seize power.

In one of those attempts, Ramos had to send radio messages via the military’s communications system to soldiers, particularly Guardian members, to stand down and disobey unlawful orders not coming from the chain of command when Honasan tried to mobilize troops for the “God Save the Queen” plot in November 1986.

Guardians members followed Ramos and the coup fizzled out. As a result, Juan Ponce Enrile was removed as defense secretary. However, perceived leftists in the Cory government were also purged.

Ramos then proceeded to dismantle the Guardians, also ordering its members to remove tattoos and other symbols on their palms and shoulders.

Jangao, who was later promoted to Constabulary major, remained loyal to General Ramos until he retired from active service.

Guardians continued to exist in various fraternal and social-economic groups, registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but they ceased to be a national security threat.

The existence of an army within an Army should not be tolerated. Members of private military groups do not answer to any authority and are not even protected under the Geneva Convention.

These private military organizations pose a serious threat to a government hiring them.

Russia’s experience would be a constant reminder of a private military group that was allowed to grow stronger and turn into a monster.