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Possible return of Wagner Group to Ukraine and their activities in Belarus

Possible return of Wagner Group to Ukraine and their activities in Belarus There is currently no imminent threat of the mercenaries infiltrating from Belarus (Photo: Getty Images)

As of now, Ukrainian military intelligence lacks concrete information regarding the potential return of Wagner mercenaries to engage in combat in Ukraine. However, there is currently no imminent threat of the mercenaries infiltrating from Belarus.

In an interview with RBC-Ukraine, Andriy Chernyak, spokesperson of the Main Directorate of Ministry of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, shed light on this matter.

Are the mercenaries planning to return to Ukraine?

Chernyak pointed out that the Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization, is presently not involved in direct combat actions within Ukrainian territory.

"Will they return to wage war against our nation after the failed uprising attempt in Russia and the losses suffered, particularly near Bakhmut? We presently lack an answer to this question, but we are monitoring the remnants of the Prigozhin army closely. Nonetheless, there is currently no imminent threat of Wagner mercenaries invading from Belarus," Chernyak stated.

Continuation of recruitment among Wagner mercenaries

A representative from Ukrainian intelligence did not rule out the possibility of ongoing concealed recruitment efforts for Wagner Group.

"In fact, Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), mentioned a supposed plan to deploy his mercenaries to African nations," noted Chernyak.

Furthermore, this information could suggest that other Russian entities might utilize the Wagner PMC brand to enlist members into their own militarized formations, as suggested by the spokesperson.

Purpose of Wagner Group in Belarus

"Based on our assessments, approximately 6,400 Wagner mercenaries have been transferred to Belarus. They are engaged in providing military training for Belarusians on local training grounds," Chernyak disclosed.

He explained that this PMC activity is not systematic and, thus, not its primary focus.

"Incidentally, some of the mercenaries are already planning or may have already returned to Russian territory," Chernyak highlighted.

He also observed that the Wagner factor is currently being actively used as part of Russia's informational-psychological game on the NATO borders. This aims to keep European countries neighboring Belarus, particularly Poland, in a state of tension.

"No significant threat to NATO member states arises from these terrorists. Their objectives might involve participating in provocations against Ukraine's partner countries," Chernyak opined.

The intelligence representative clarified that such provocations aim to prompt impulsive and ill-conceived actions from adversaries, but he considered these efforts futile.

"Both Ukraine and our good neighbors Poland and the Baltic States are well-acquainted with Russia. If any armed group of mercenaries attempts to test the strength of the Ukrainian border or, as Kremlin propaganda threatens, seize control of the Suwałki corridor, such a group will be promptly neutralized," Chernyak concluded.

Wagner mercenaries in Belarus

Following the unsuccessful so-called "campaign" towards Moscow, the Wagner Group mercenaries have relocated to Belarus. According to assessments by Ukrainian border officials, the presence of members from the Private Military Company (PMC) currently poses no immediate threat to Ukraine. However, concerns of potential provocations linger.

Similarly, the possibility of a Wagner Group incursion from Belarus into Kyiv has been acknowledged by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Serhii Naiev, Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General, stated in an interview with RBC-Ukraine that while such a prospect exists, no immediate threats are evident at this time.

The Security Service of Ukraine has also cautioned that Russia might exploit the Wagner Group to embroil Belarus in a full-scale war against Ukraine. This could involve a terrorist act at the Mazyr Oil Refinery.

Additionally, Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of the Belarusian regime, has started issuing threats in connection with the Wagner mercenaries. Recently, he claimed that these fighters are becoming "agitated" as they purportedly intend to attack Poland. However, Lukashenko later dismissed his statements as mere "jokes."

Nevertheless, monitoring groups have observed that apart from training Belarusian soldiers, these mercenaries are also being deployed near the western borders of Belarus. This development has caused unease in Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, prompting these countries to announce the repositioning of their forces closer to Belarusian borders to counter potential threats and provocations.

Equally surprising to allies was the joint Russian-Belarusian deployment of around a hundred Wagner mercenaries to the Suwałki corridor. This region links Poland to Lithuania and other Baltic nations and separates Russia's Kaliningrad region from Belarus.