MOSCOW — A video launched Wednesday seems to indicate Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin for the primary time since he led a short-lived rise up final month, and he’s seen telling his troops they’ll spend a while in Belarus coaching its army earlier than deploying to Africa.
Messaging app channels linked to Prigozhin’s Wagner non-public army firm stated he spoke at a discipline camp in Belarus and ran a blurry video purported to indicate him there, his silhouette seen towards the sky at nightfall. His gravelly voice was clearly distinguishable.
“Welcome guys! I’m pleased to greet you all. Welcome to the Belarusian land!” the video confirmed him saying. “We fought with dignity! We’ve completed quite a bit for Russia.”
Prigozhin’s mutiny, which posed essentially the most critical menace to President Vladimir Putin’s 23-year rule, was billed by the mercenary chief as being geared toward ousting Russia’s high army leaders whom he accused of incompetence.
Prigozhin’s criticism of the conduct of the combating in Ukraine was repeated within the new video, the authenticity of which couldn’t be instantly verified.
“What’s going on the entrance line at the moment is a disgrace by which we shouldn’t participate,” he stated, including that Wagner forces may return to Ukraine sooner or later.
“We might return to the particular army operation after we really feel certain that we are going to not be pressured to place disgrace on ourselves,” Prigozhin stated, utilizing the identical time period that the Kremlin calls the combating in Ukraine.
“We have to await the second after we can present ourselves in full,” he stated. “That’s the reason a call has been made that we might spend a while right here in Belarus. Throughout that point, we’ll make the Belarusian military the second strongest military on this planet. We’ll practice, elevate our stage and set off for a brand new journey to Africa.”
Along with their involvement in Ukraine, Wagner mercenaries have been despatched to Syria and a number of other African international locations because the non-public military was created in 2014.
Beneath the deal that was brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin agreed to finish his rise up in alternate for an amnesty for him and his fighters and a permission to relocate to Belarus.
Earlier than shifting to Belarus, Wagner handed over its weapons to the Russian army, a part of efforts by Russian authorities to defuse the menace posed by the mercenaries.
Till the video was posted Wednesday, Prigozhin had launched solely a few audio messages after the mutiny — contrasting with an almost-daily barrage of blustery statements earlier than the June 23-24 occasions. Some noticed that as an indication the deal obliged him to chop his rhetoric and keep away from politics.
Beginning final week, a number of Wagner convoys flying Russian flags and Wagner insignias have been seen rolling into Belarus, heading towards a discipline camp that Belarusian authorities had provided to the corporate.
Satellite tv for pc pictures from Planet Labs PBC and analyzed by The Related Press confirmed a convoy of automobiles on the base close to Tsel within the Asipovichy area of Belarus, about 90 kilometers (about 55 miles) southeast of Minsk. The pictures taken Monday confirmed an extended line of automobiles coming off a freeway.
Belaruski Hajun, an activist group that screens troops actions in Belarus, stated a number of convoys with Wagner fighters have entered the nation since final week, together with at the very least 170 automobiles on Tuesday. It estimated that about 2,500 Wagner mercenaries are actually in Belarus.
On Monday, a messaging app channel linked to the contractor ran a video displaying Russian and Wagner flags lowered on the mercenaries’ most important house base in Molkino within the Krasnodar area of southern Russia. The channel stated that the bottom would shut on July 30, and one of many mercenaries within the video declared that Wagner was shifting to unspecified new areas. Wagner additionally has used camps within the Russia-occupied Luhansk area of Ukraine.
Prigozhin introduced the flag to cheering mercenaries within the video posted Wednesday.
Prigozhin stated Belarusians met them “not solely like heroes, however like brothers” and added to their laughter that “native women are whispering filled with want that Wagner troops have come. Be correct to not offend any of them, let’s deal with them in a brotherly manner.”
Lukashenko has stated that his nation’s army may gain advantage from the mercenaries’ fight expertise and rejected claims that their presence may destabilize the ex-Soviet nation. Final week, Belarusian state TV broadcast video of Wagner instructors coaching Belarus’ territorial protection forces.
In his revolt that started on June 23 and lasted lower than 24 hours, Prigozhin’s mercenaries swept by means of the southern Russian metropolis of Rostov-on-Don and captured the army headquarters there with out firing a shot, earlier than shifting as shut as 200 kilometers (125 miles) of Moscow.
The mutiny confronted little resistance and the mercenaries downed at the very least six army helicopters and a command submit plane, killing at the very least 10 airmen.
Prigozhin had known as it a “march of justice” to oust Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu and Normal Workers chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov, who demanded that Wagner forces signal contracts with the Protection Ministry. He ordered his troops again to their camps after placing the deal to finish the rise up, the phrases of which have remained murky.
Putin has declared that Wagner troops had a selection between signing contracts with the Protection Ministry, shifting to Belarus or retiring from service. He stated final week that he met with Prigozhin and 34 Wagner officers on June 29 and provided them the choice of constant to function a single unit underneath their similar commander.