Wagner fighters in Belarus create new hybrid threat in Europe – military expert

Russia’s Wagner’s mercenary fighters might be trying to create a zone of uncertainty on the border of Belarus with NATO countries. The Defense Express director, a military expert Serhiy Zgurets stated that in an interview with the Ukrainian TV channel Espresso.

Wagner’s fighters might threaten the Suwalki Gap, a sparsely populated area southwest of the border between Lithuania and Poland, between Belarus and the Russian exclave of the Kaliningrad region.

“Wagner’s actions are potentially creating a new hybrid threat in Europe. Such a threat may be on the verge of preventing NATO countries from acting consolidated if Wagner’s actions are active and creating a zone of uncertainty. Because how can we determine who owns the Wagnerites, who seem to have no reason to be associated with the Russian Ministry of Defence or the Belarusians, with whom they have not signed anything? Wagner is simply a criminal group. Is it possible to fire missiles at Moscow for this if the Wagnerites seize the Suwalki corridor, for example? There seems to be no legal basis for this”.

Serhiy Zgurets, Defense Express director, military expert

Serhiy Zgurets noted that with such hybrid approaches, the Russian regime is now trying to undermine the situation using the Wagner mercenaries.

How did the Wagner fighters end up in Belarus?

After the aborted mutiny of Wagner PMC boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in late June, the Kremlin announced the relocation of mercenaries to Belarus.

On June 27, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, confirmed the arrival of Yevgeny Prigozhin in the country.

On June 29, a satellite detected the erection of a tent camp near Osipovichi in the Mogilev region of Belarus. Later, Russian media published a photo of a suspected base for Wagner mercenaries.

On July 11, the Ministry of Defence of Belarus stated that the Wagnerians would teach the Belarusian army how to fight. And on July 14, it was reported that training sessions with units of the territorial troops were taking place near Osipovichi (Belarus), where Wagner PMC fighters were acting as instructors in some military disciplines.

Then a large convoy of cars and trucks with the number plates of the so-called DPR and LPR was spotted in Belarus. These were probably mercenaries of Wagner’s PMC. Ukraine’s Border Guard Service confirmed this information.

On July 16, the monitoring group Belaruski Gaius reported that two flags – of Russia and Wagner PMC – had been installed at the checkpoint on the border between Belarus and Russia. Subsequently, Wagner’s members announced that on July 30, the main PMC base in Russia, located in the village of Molkino in Krasnodar Krai, would be closed.

On July 19, Wagner PMC financier Yevgeny Prigozhin spoke to Wagner members in Belarus, calling the situation at the front a “disgrace” and urging the mercenaries to “wait for the moment to prove themselves to the fullest”.

Later, on July 23, self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated that the mercenaries from the Russian Wagner PMC stationed in his country wanted to “go on an excursion” to Poland.

On July 27, it was reported that units of Wagner’s private military company were looking for people in Belarus who were ready to fight against Lithuania and Poland. Also on that day, Gayun reported that the 12th column of Wagner PMCs, which included at least 50 pieces of equipment, had arrived in Belarus.

On July 28, Ukrainian official sources warned that Wagner’s men were preparing provocations on the border of Belarus with the EU. Also, on that day, the 13th column of mercenaries was spotted in Belarus.

On July 29, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that more than 100 Wagnerites had gone to the Suwalki corridor.

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