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Lukashenko claims Prigozhin is in Belarus

by Martin Fornusek June 27, 2023 5:32 PM 2 min read
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko makes the State of the Union address in Minsk, Belarus, on March 31, 2023. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko claimed that Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has arrived in Belarus, Belarusian state news agency BelTA said on June 27.

"Security guarantees... were provided. I see that Prigozhin is already flying on the plane. Yes, indeed, he is in Belarus today," Lukashenko said to a group of high-ranking Belarusian officers during a military ceremony.

Lukashenko reportedly said both he and Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin agree on the benefits of having a group like Wagner in the army, although he did not specify which one.

The Belarusian dictator said camps for the mercenaries are not yet being built, but said that Minsk will help them with accommodation if necessary. According to BelTA, he said so in reaction to the media reports from June 26 that the construction of a military camp for 8,000 mercenaries is underway in Asipovichy.

Lukashenko assured his audience that no recruitment offices for Wagner will be opened in Belarus. He added that nobody will prevent Belarusian ex-military members to join the group, but warned against it due to the high-risk nature of their operations.

The dictator also denied alleged rumors that the Wagner mercenaries are meant to arrange a provocation against NATO before the upcoming summit in Vilnius on Moscow's orders.

The Kyiv Independent could not verify Lukashenko's claims.

The Wagner Group's founder launched an armed rebellion against the Russian government on June 23. His mercenaries occupied the city of Rostov and marched on Moscow, only to abruptly end the insurrection on June 24.

After a deal between the Kremlin and Prigozhin, allegedly brokered by Lukashenko, Russian officials said that the Wagner founder and its contractors will be allowed to leave for Belarus.

Although Prigozhin's press service hasn't yet confirmed his arrival, the Belarusian monitoring group Belarusian Hajun reported that Prigozhin's business jet had landed at the Machulishchy military airfield near Minsk.

Petro Burkovskyi: Decoding Prigozhin’s rebellion
The Wagner Group’s armed rebellion has displayed little evidence of being a successful challenge to Putin’s regime, but it has created a strong argument in support of Ukraine’s accelerated accession to NATO. The military drama that unfolded in Russia from June 23 to 24, orchestrated by Wagner
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