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Fewer than 1,000 Wagner mercenaries in Belarus force Ukraine to maintain defense along northern border

In Europe
February 04, 2024

The continued presence of fewer than 1,000 Russian Wagner mercenaries in Belarus benefits Russia’s war effort by compelling Ukraine to maintain defensive positions and personnel along its northern border to protect against potential further incursions, according to the latest UK Defense Ministry’s intelligence report of Feb. 4.

They have been present in the country since June 2023, at which point there were 8,000 Wagner mercenaries. Wagner almost certainly continues to train Belarusian military and security forces.

Read also: Hundreds of Wagner mercenaries still working in Belarus – what are they doing there?

It is unlikely that Belarusian dictator Aleksander Lukashenko would use the Wagner mercenaries beyond their current remit. They are involved in the training of Interior Ministry troops but are highly unlikely to participate directly in maintaining domestic or border security in Belarus.

Several hundred Wagner Group mercenaries continue to operate in Belarus, engaging in training activities for the country’s internal troops and armed forces, the monitoring group Belaruski Hahyun reported on Telegram on Jan. 10.

The mercenaries persist in conducting systematic training sessions with the internal troops and systematic exercises with the Belarusian Armed Forces

Earlier, British intelligence reported that the Russian leadership had begun to “rehabilitate” some elements of the Wagner PMC after the militants’ failed mutiny in June.

Read also: Belarus launches snap combat readiness checks of air defenses, air force

The mercenaries were given official documents identifying them as combat veterans. Wagner’s PMC has also been integrated into the command structure of the Russian Guard.

All Wagner’s PMC units have been reformatted, the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate’s representative Vadym Skibitskyi said earlier.

A crash involving an Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft took place in Russia’s Tver Oblast on Aug. 23. The Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) confirmed that among the passengers on board were Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary company, and his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin.

There were a total of ten individuals on board — seven passengers (Wagner PMC fighters) and three crew members.

The aviation incident occurred exactly two months after a mutiny by the Wagner mercenaries.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine

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