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Yevgeny Prigozhin in Belarus. How can Alyaksandr Lukashenko use the Wagner Group? HEI analysis

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Alyaksandr Lukashenko probably wants to use the Wagner Group to increase his room for maneuver in the face of the Kremlin’s efforts to absorb Belarus, writes the American Institute for War Research (ISW) in its latest analysis. He also notes that he successfully played the role of mediator between Yevgeni Prigozhin and Vladimir Putin. At the same time, the Institute of Internal Affairs points out, “the power game between Putin, Lukashenka and Prigozhin is not over yet.”

Regarding Tuesday’s speech Alyaksandr Lukashenkoin which he described in detail his role in overcoming the crisis between the owner of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Vladimir Putinthe American Institute for War Research (ISW) writes that if his words are true, they testify to Lukashenko’s political efficiency and his ability to influence the highest echelons of Russian power.

“Lukashenka’s detailed argument indicates that he successfully mediated the crisis within Putin’s inner circle, which he was unable to do,” the center writes.

READ ALSO: Lukashenka confirms reports about Prigozhin >>

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ISW: Belarus can use the Wagner Group

According to the institute, Lukashenko most likely joined the mediation partly to signal to Putin and other senior officials in the Kremlin that he could function effectively and independently in Russian politics. According to the Institute of Internal Affairs, regardless of whether Lukashenko’s boasting is true, it is humiliating for Putin. Especially since he didn’t correct them.

The Institute expressed its belief that the Belarusian leader may try to use the Wagner Group for Belarus to reduce the military’s structural dependence on the Russian armed forces and to rebuild the potential of the Belarusian army, which is largely organizationally dependent on Russia’s Western Military District.

“Belarus currently has no experience in conducting large-scale operations or organizing exercises above the battalion level. The main source of knowledge and experience of Belarus in higher operational activities are organized by Russia maneuvers” – writes ISW, emphasizing that the Wagner Group has such experience.

“Putin-Lukashenka-Prigozhyn power game is not over yet”

The Institute cautions that it is not known whether Lukashenko’s calculations will come true, as the operational subordination of the Belarusian army to the Russian general staff has been a reality for many years and it may be difficult to dismantle such deep institutional ties. Nevertheless, the current crisis of regime stability in Russia may open up new opportunities for Minsk.

“The ongoing power game between Putin, Lukashenka and Prigozhin is not over yet and will continue to have short and long-term consequences that may favor Ukraine” – evaluates ISW. He also emphasizes that, for example, the director of the Russian National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, announced on Tuesday that Rosgvardia would receive heavy weapons and tanks. The transfer of these weapons to increase internal security in Russia means that they cannot be used on Ukraine.

In addition, the Russian Ministry of Defense has announced the transfer of the Wagner Group’s heavy military equipment to the Russian Armed Forces, which indicates the Ministry of Defense’s intention to fragment the Group. This, in turn, indicates that the Wagner Group is unlikely to be used to reinforce the front line in Ukraine any time soon.

Main photo source: VLADIMIR ASTAPKOVICH/EPA/PAP



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