Espreso. Global

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service reveals number of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus

25 September, 2023 Monday
14:38

The State Border Guard Service spokesperson, Andriy Demchenko, noted that Wagner numbers have decreased due to rotation, with around 1,000 remaining, primarily as instructors involved in training the Belarusian army, posing a limited threat

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Andriy Demchenko, spokesman for the State Border Guard Service, shared the information on the United News telethon.

"The situation on the border with Belarus remains fully controlled, we do not record any attempts to invade or destabilize the situation. Our intelligence units, of course, are monitoring the situation in Belarus in general and the number of Russian troops," the border guard said.

Demchenko noted that Russia has withdrawn its troops from Belarus, in particular as part of the rotation. Regarding Wagner mercenaries near the Ukrainian border, he said, "When they began to arrive there, their number fluctuated around 6,000 people, then they began to disappear. At the moment, according to our data, there are no more than 1,000 of them there."

The spokesperson emphasized that the remaining people were mostly instructors involved in training the Belarusian army.

"They do not pose a significant threat," the border guard added.

What happened to Wagner soldiers

After the mutiny of Wagner PMC leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in late June, the Kremlin announced the relocation of Wagner mercenaries to Belarus.

On June 27, self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko confirmed the arrival of Yevgeny Prigozhin in the country. According to him, Wagner mercenaries  who arrived with him will not guard the Russian tactical nuclear weapons deployed there. However, Lukashenko emphasized that he expects the mercenaries to help in the defense of Belarus, without specifying the potential source of the country's perceived threat.

On July 31, the Wagner PMC had suspended the work of its regional recruitment centers "indefinitely." And Prigozhin revoked the vacations of employees and ordered them to arrive in Belarus by August 5.

On August 3, Wagner's private military contractors were in Belarus near the Lithuania border, in Grodno. The President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, was worried about the security situation.

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. 

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.

Following this, on August 25, Belarus' self-proclaimed President, Oleksandr Lukashenko, stated that Wagner mercenaries would continue to operate in Belarus, even if Prigozhin had likely died.

By August 29, opposition leaders reported that the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs had been issuing passports with changed surnames to Wagner personnel for a month. This could be connected to their preparations for sabotage, potentially including terrorist activities.

The liquidation of the Wagner PMC camp in the village of Tsel near Osypovych continues, as shown by satellite imagery. About 60 large military tents have been removed since August 23

As of September 18, fewer than 1,000 Wagner PMC mercenaries have remained in Belarus.

Later, the National Resistance Center reported that Russia was forming a private military company in Africa, including some Wagner mercenaries. This organization was being established based on a brigade that had been involved in combat operations in Ukraine.

For more information about the plane crash involving Prigozhin, follow the link.

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