Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko has revealed that the head of the mutinous Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin is no longer in Belarus and it is not clear if his fighters will move there.
Lukashenko, who said this on Thursday, had revealed on June 27 that Prigozhin had arrived in Belarus as part of the deal that defused the crisis, which had seen the Wagner fighters briefly capture the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and then march towards Moscow.
According to the Belarus leader, who brokered the deal, Prigozhin was now in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, or may have moved on to Moscow.
“He is not on the territory of Belarus,” Lukashenko told a news conference in Minsk, adding that the question of Wagner units relocating to Belarus had not been resolved, and would depend on decisions by Russia and by Wagner.
“Whether they will be in Belarus or not, in what quantity, we will figure it out in the near future,” he said.
His comments highlighted the huge uncertainties surrounding the terms and implementation of the deal that ended the mutiny, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has said could have plunged the country into civil war.
Ripples Nigeria reports that Prigozhin’s men have spearheaded much of the fighting in Ukraine but he has also accused Russia’s top brass of corruption and incompetence.
Prigozhin cast the June 24 “march of justice” on Moscow as a protest against the military leadership.
Lukashenko further said that he had agreed to meet Putin in the near future and would discuss the Prigozhin situation with him, adding that Prigozhin is “absolutely free” and Putin will not “wipe him out.”
According to Lukashenko, an offer for Wagner to station some of its fighters in Belarus still stands.
“We are not building camps. We offered them several former military camps that were used in Soviet times, including near Osipovichi. If they agree. But Wagner has a different vision for deployment, of course, I won’t tell you about this vision,” the Belarusian leader told reporters.
He further said that he did not see a Wagner presence in Belarus as a risk to his country and did not believe Wagner would ever take up arms against Belarus. He said the Belarusian army could benefit from Wagner’s expertise.
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