On July 16, news outlets began to report that Wagner Group fighters have arrived in Belarus from Russia, and that the Polish police and intelligence service are monitoring them.
The news comes a few weeks after the failed revolt by Wagner Group and their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. If you are unfamiliar with that event, you can read about it here:
Is there a coup in Russia?
Yesterday, June 23, 2023, it was reported that the Russian government has opened up a criminal investigation into…
The bottom line up front is that Prigozhin, accusing Putin and Russian Army officials of forsaking the Wagner Group and using them as fodder, ordered his men to seize Rostov and prepare a march on Moscow.
Many in the West took this to be the beginnings of an all out civil war in Russia; Putin himself even appeared to flee to Belarus. But all that ended as quickly as it happened. Prigozhin apparently came to an agreement with Putin to meet in Belarus, and the revolt ended. Prigozhin has yet to be seen or heard from.
But as for Wagner Group fighter, their fate seems more fortunate. Wagner Group fighters have mobilized in the hundreds and made their way to Belarus. Polish deputy minister of special services, Stanislaw Zaryn, confirmed these details on Twitter.
Poland is monitoring these movements for a few reasons, they are as follows:
- Wagner Fighters could offer training to Belarussian soldiers
- Wagner fighters could mask themselves as refugees and commit crimes and acts of terror in Europe
- Wagner could marshal in Belarus and conduct small unit tactics closer to Kyiv
It was Putin himself who stated that Wagner’s movement to Belarus was a part of the deal that ended their revolt in June. Many people were uncertain of Wagner’s fate after their mutiny. Would the organization be broken up? Would the fighters be sent to other units? Would they even agree to fight anymore?
But now it is more clear. Wagner seem to be keen on reprising their former role as instructors; to appear as elite special operators training generations of pro-Russian fighters across various continents. Belarus clearly seemed an amicable option for the Russian mercenaries.
What do you think? Is Wagner’s presence in Belarus a part of a broader strategic plan, or did Putin get them there strictly to deescalate the internal strife?