Wagner forces train Belarusian army
Vladimir Putin is facing a massive crisis with Wagner Group fighters leaving Belarus in huge numbers – just weeks after he exiled them there following the failed rebellion against Russia’s president, it has been claimed.
The group of mercenary fighters – led by Yevgeny Prigozhin – has reportedly plunged by 1,400 from their 5,800-strong group.
This is in part because their income has dropped in recent weeks since moving to Belarus, according to The Daily Beast, citing sources in the country speaking to the National Resistance Center of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
It is understood some of the Wagner fighters are instead choosing to work in African countries, where the mercenary group is more established, while many others are simply going on vacation.
The Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said: “The regime in Belarus does not yet satisfy Wagner instructors with its level of payment for services, as a result, most instructors do not plan to stay in the country for a long time.”
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These new claims add to swirling speculation over recent weeks about just how long Wagner fighters will actually remain in Belarus.
The mercenary group already started bussing hundreds of fighters from the country to the Russian cities of Voronezh, Rostov, and Krasnodar earlier this month, according to the online news website, citing a Russian insider.
Telegram channel VchK-OGPU said: “Officially, this is called as sending fighters on vacation. However, no one talks about returning to Belarus.”
This operation to bus Wagner fighters out of Belarus was the first phase, according to the source, with the second phase set to begin last week.
Franak Viacorka, the chief political adviser of Belarusian democratic opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, believes the Wagner exodus from Belarus is likely to continue.
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He told The Daily Beast: “It’s important to understand they are mercenaries. They are not ideological supporters of Putin or Prigozhin or Lukashenko. They are there because they receive a good salary.
“While in Belarus, they don’t receive a good salary. The salary is many times smaller than during missions.
“There is growing disappointment, growing discontent, among Wagner mercenaries. And more and more of them will be asking to leave.”
But in a further blow to Putin and his war plan, the huge departure of Wagner fighters from Belarus to African countries will likely be welcomed but the likes of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
These three countries close to Ukraine have been warning about potential threats from Belarus ever since the Wagner mercenaries relocated there several weeks ago.
Recently, Lithuania said it would be closing many of its border crossings with Belarus – following a move already made by Poland.
Warsaw has also raised the alarm over Wagner fighters training with Belarusian troops and edging closer to its own border which could potentially spark a direct confrontation.
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