One of the most prominent mercenary firms operating out of the United States has collapsed under its director’s weight. Mozart Group co-founder and retired Marine Col. Andy Milburn has been involved in a series of drunken episodes both on and off camera which have led Ukrainian military officers to dub him “the crazy American.”
With tens of billions of US military aid flowing into the Ukraine conflict zone, this might be one of the best times in the history of warfare to run a mercenary group. This February 2, however, Milburn was forced to announce the closure of his company.
“Today was the last day for the Mozart Group. The Mozart Group ended today,” Milburn tweeted. ”The name and entity -had become the subject of litigation and a distraction from our core mission: training Ukrainian soldiers and rescuing civilians.”
The mercenary group’s collapse represents a dramatic fall from grace for a 59-year-old veteran who was the subject of a fawning October 2022 profile by the New York Times as a courageous humanitarian “driven by the same pro-Ukrainian spirit that has put yellow and blue flags flying across the Western world.”
The Mozart Group’s demise comes a little more than a month after Grazyone editor Max Blumenthal publicized a video podcast featuring Milburn knocking back glasses of whiskey until his apparently drunken mind spoke for his sober heart. Milburn proceeded to slur his way through a series of resentful complaints and allegations about the Ukrainian government and armed forces.
“It’s a corrupt, fucked up society,” led by “fucked up people,” Milburn said, going on to accuse Ukrainian forces of “atrocities” and killing Russian prisoners of war “who surrendered.”
“There was plenty of that,” Milburn added.
By the time Mozart Group closed down, Blumenthal’s tweet of Milburn’s drunken rant had been viewed more than 3.9 million times.
Milburn responded with an absurdly clumsy attempt at damage control, accusing The Grayzone editor of being a “conduit for Russian propaganda” and claiming the video was, in fact, a “deep fake.”
In a separate thread published in Ukrainian on the Mozart Group’s official Twitter account, Milburn’s company falsely accused Blumenthal of having lived in Russia for several years, having a Russian wife, and having worked for Russian broadcasters RT and Sputnik.
Later, Milburn acknowledged to the New York Times that the notorious video was all too real: “Of course I shouldn’t have said that,” he said.
According to a lawsuit filed against Milburn this January by Mozart Group Chief Financial Officer Andrew Bain, the podcast interview was not the first time Milburn had let alcohol get in the way of his better judgment.
In fact, on one occasion, Milburn was allegedly drunk in Kiev after curfew and had to be bailed out of jail by the Mozart Group’s administrative director.
And this incident was one of many encounters between Milburn and Ukrainian law enforcement. He also stands accused of “orchestrating and participating in the break in and burglary of a warehouse” in Ukraine operated by the Ukraine Freedom Fund, a US-based not-for-profit. According to the lawsuit, the incident sparked a criminal complaint against Milburn.
In another incident, Milburn and a handful of his employees went to a building owned by the Chief Financial Officer-turned plaintiff, to pick up gear “for missions in Donbass.” When they were refused entry, one of Milburn’s mercs then pinned the security guard against the wall while Milburn kicked down the door, according to the New York Times.
The lawsuit further claims that “defendant Milburn is now commonly referred to by Ukrainian military leadership as the ‘crazy American.’”
One senior Ukrainian military officer wondered aloud, “can’t he go home and stop saving our country?”
Milburn’s former colleagues alleged he sent hostile and threatening messages to “the retired former commanding general of Special Operations Command Europe,” and to a landlord who evicted him after he took in a “stray untrained dog” which “defecated and urinated freely” while Milburn held “numerous late night parties” on the property.
Along with multiple allegations of directing company funds elsewhere, Milburn is also accused of “unilaterally hiring as his personal assistant” a Ukrainian woman he met on a dating site and paying her a $90,000 salary.
Yet, according to the New York Times, Milburn was not the only Mozart merc with a drinking problem or an irresistible urge to swipe right on dating apps. Many of the recruits were “grizzled combat vets who admitted to struggling with PTSD and heavy drinking. When they weren’t working, they gravitated to Kyiv’s strip clubs, bars and online dating.”
Despite his legal and personal woes, Milburn has reportedly rented an office in Kiev and plans to launch a new mercenary operation.
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