Lukashenko says Wagner mercenaries will continue to be based in Belarus
Self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that Wagner PMC mercenaries will continue to be based in the country, despite the alleged death of Prigozhin
He made the announcement on August 25, according to the Belarusian state-run Telegram channel.
"Together with Prigozhin, we have built a system of how we will host Wagner. And these pictures from space, that we are dismantling something... Why are we removing extra tents? We don't need so many. The core remains here: someone went on vacation, someone decided to live away, but the phones, addresses, passwords, and attendance of this core are known. Within a few days, everyone will be here, up to 10,000 people. There is no need to keep them here now. So they are not going anywhere. They will live and work here as long as we need them and this unit," Lukashenko said.
It is worth noting that on August 24, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested that after Prigozhin's alleged death, Wagner fighters would continue to destabilize the countries bordering Belarus.
Details regarding Prigozhin’s plane crash
On August 23, a business jet belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin, an Embraer aircraft, crashed in Russia's Tver region, resulting in the confirmed deaths of 10 individuals. Among the passengers was Dmitry Utkin, a key figure in Wagner PMC. Multiple theories have emerged about the crash: 1) the plane might have been downed by an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system; 2) it could have been hit by air defense systems; 3) an explosion might have occurred onboard.
Subsequently, the Institute for the Study of War suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin might have ordered the assassination of Wagner PMC leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to reassert dominance and seek revenge.
One version from Russian media indicated that an explosive device was planted in the landing gear of the plane carrying Wagner PMC leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. This device would have detonated at a specific moment, leading to wing and stabilizer detachment.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that Ukraine was not involved in the plane's downing and made light of the situation by joking that such "aircraft assistance" wasn't what Ukraine had asked for.
The US officials suggest that the aircraft, carrying passengers linked to Wagner PMC leadership, was likely shot down by a missile from Russian territory.
The Russian leader also responded to Prigozhin's demise, referring to the Wagner leader as a figure with a complicated fate who achieved necessary results but also made significant mistakes.
ISW analysts believe that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's willingness to publicly kill Wagner's leadership is likely to prompt the PMC's Council of Commanders to refrain from publicly appointing successors to Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin.