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Border Guards: Russia appears to have withdrawn troops from Belarus

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 31, 2023 6:46 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian border guards patrol on the closed checkpoint of Slavutych on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border in Chernihiv Oblast on July 14, 2023. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia appears to have withdrawn "all its units from the territory of Belarus," Andriy Demchenko, the spokesperson of Ukraine's State Border Guard Service, said on air on Oct. 31.

The units were withdrawn "as part of a rotation," but new units were not brought in.

However, some members of the Russian Armed Forces remain in Belarus, but these are predominantly military personnel who service Russian equipment in the country, Demchenko said.  

While the border guard is "actively monitoring" the area, the situation on the border is "fully under control" with no evidence that personnel or equipment are being moved toward Ukraine.

There are also currently "less than a thousand" Russian mercenaries in Belarus, Demchenko said, referring to Wagner Group fighters who came to the country to provide training to the Belarusian military in the summer of 2023.

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Their presence in Belarus was part of a negotiated deal that ended the brief rebellion of the group's founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, against Moscow in June.

The group's founder was killed in a plane crash in Russia's Tver Oblast on Aug. 23 under mysterious circumstances.

Wagner Group mercenaries, who were reportedly already leaving Belarus due to low pay, began to leave the country in convoys following news of Prigozhin's death, according to Ukraine's National Resistance Center.

Roughly 8,000 Wagner fighters were stationed in Belarus, and around 500 of these men have now returned to fight in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military believes.

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