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Media: Satellite images show Wagner camp in Belarus being dismantled

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 24, 2023 5:20 PM 3 min read
The satellite image from Planet Labs exclusively obtained by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Belarusian service shows the dismantlement of tents at the northern part of Wagner Group's camp in Tsel, Belarus, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 23, 2023. 
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A camp for Wagner Group fighters in Belarus' village of Tsel near Asipovichy is being actively dismantled, as shown in satellite images from Planet Labs exclusively obtained by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Belarusian service.

According to RFE/RL, 101 out of 272 tents in the camp have already been removed. Given that each tent can accommodate around 20 people, it could mean that 2,020 Wagner combatants have left the military base, which used to host 5,000 fighters.

The demolition started around Aug. 1, the media outlet wrote, adding that Wagner's military equipment mostly stayed at the camp.

It is currently unclear where these tents are being transported and whether the Wagner mercenaries left Belarus.

The satellite images available to RFE/RL journalists do not show the construction of similar tent camps on other Belarusian training grounds or military units.

The outlet cited Telegram channels associated with Russia's Wagner Group, saying that some mercenaries were sent home "for a long vacation." It's also possible that part of Wagner's forces is being transferred to Africa or other places in Belarus, according to RFE/RL.

The report comes a day after a private aircraft crashed in Russia's Tver Oblast while flying from Moscow to St. Petersburg, presumably killing Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin.

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The National Resistance Center, run by Ukraine's special forces, reported that convoys of Wagner fighters were departing Belarus and heading to Russia after the plane crash.

On Aug. 24, Ukraine's State Border Service spokesman confirmed to Ukrainska Pravda that they have recently recorded a decrease in the number of Wagner fighters in Belarus.

"This situation existed before yesterday... And given yesterday's events in Russia, the further stay of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus is questionable," said Andrii Demchenko.

According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin "almost certainly ordered the Russian military command to shoot down Prigozhin's plane." The warlord's death is yet to be confirmed by official sources, however.

Earlier, thousands of Wagner fighters had moved into Belarus at Minsk's invitation following the mercenary group's short-lived rebellion against the Kremlin in late June.

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