Mercenaries from the Wagner Group are to return from Belarus to Russia because the Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenko refused to finance them, according to the latest analysis of the American Institute for War Studies (ISW), citing sources close to Yevgeny Prigozhin’s formation.
On Tuesday, a Russian source said that Wagner Group forces are carrying out the first phase of withdrawal from Belarusallegedly moving groups of 500-600 mercenaries to Krasnodar Krai, Voronezh and Rostov regions in Russia – reports ISW. The second stage of the withdrawal is – according to this source – to start after August 13.
Sources say that the Wagnerians may be leaving Belarus because Alexander Lukashenko refused to finance the company when he learned that Russia would not pay for the mercenaries – which he was counting on. According to sources, a small group of Wagner Group instructors will remain in Belarus to train Belarusian forces.
The command allegedly called on mercenaries who are free and in Russia to keep their finger on the pulse, as new orders may appear at any time. Sources close to the Wagner Group claim that the main forces of this mercenary company will “activate” at the end of August. However, no details were given.
Speculations about Wagner’s forces leaving Belarus for Russia, information about new orders from the command, and the announcement of the “activation” of Wagner’s forces may indicate that aspects of the arrangement under which the mercenaries moved to Belarus have collapsed, emphasizes ISW.
Experts point out that at the time of publication of the analysis, it is not clear whether the speculations about the withdrawal of the Wagnerians from Belarus are true. American analysts have not observed any eye evidence that could indicate the departure of mercenaries from Belarus. However, if the reports are confirmed, it may mean that the Russian authorities want to recruit mercenaries to the regular armed forces, analysts add.
On June 24, the Wagnerians occupied the headquarters of the Russian troops in Rostov-on-Don, and then began to advance towards Moscow. The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, long at odds with the part of the Russian military establishment leading the invasion of Ukraine, demanded “restore justice” in the army and remove the defense minister from power Sergey Shoigu.
That same evening, Prigozhin announced a retreat and the withdrawal of the mercenaries to the field camps to “avoid bloodshed”. This was the result of Lukashenka’s deal with Prigozhin, concluded in an agreement with Vladimir Putin. According to these arrangements, some of the fighters of the Wagner Group and Prigozhin himself were to move to Belarus.
As reported on July 30 by the British Ministry of Defense, at least several thousand Wagner ships have arrived at the military base in the village of Cel in central Belarus since mid-July, but it remains unclear what happened to their heavy equipment. In recent weeks, Belarusian media have reported that more than a dozen columns of mercenaries have already entered the neighboring country from Russia.
Main photo source: Reuters