Flying Russian flags, more Wagner troops arrive in Belarus as part of a deal that ended their mutiny

More mercenaries from Russian military contractor Wagner arrived in Belarus on Monday, a monitoring group said, continuing their resettlement in the former Soviet nation after last month’s short-lived mutiny.

Belaruski Hajun, a Belarusian activist group that monitors troop movements in Belarus, said a convoy of about 20 vehicles bearing Russian flags and Wagner insignia entered the country on Monday heading for a field camp that the Belarusian authorities had offered to the company.

The group said it was the third Wagner convoy entering the country since last week.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered a deal that ended last month’s rebellion launched by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, said his country’s military could benefit from the mercenaries’ combat experience.

On Friday, Belarusian state television aired a video of Wagner instructors training Belarusian territorial defense forces at a firing range in the Asipovichy region, where there is a camp offered to Wagner.

A Belarusian messaging app chain alleged last week that Prigozhin spent a night at the camp near Tsel, about 90 kilometers (about 55 miles) southeast of Minsk, and posted a picture of himself in a tent.

In the revolt that began on June 23 and lasted less than 24 hours, Prigozhin’s mercenaries quickly swept through the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and captured the headquarters there. military without firing a shot, before traveling about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Moscow. Prigozhin called it a “march of justice” to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, who demanded that Wagner sign contracts with the Defense Ministry.

The mutiny met with little resistance and the mercenaries shot down at least six military helicopters and a command post aircraft, killing at least 10 airmen. Prigozhin ordered his troops back to their camps after making a deal to put down the rebellion in exchange for amnesty for him and his men, and permission to move into Belarus. The terms of the deal and Prigozhin’s fate remained murky.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry did not specify how many Wagner soldiers were in Belarus. Lukashenko has previously said it is up to Prigozhin and Moscow to decide on a move to Belarus. The Kremlin declined to comment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wagner’s troops had a choice between signing contracts with the Defense Ministry, moving to Belarus or withdrawing from service. Putin said last week he had offered Wagner’s officers the option of continuing to serve as a single unit under their same commander when he met with them five days after the rebellion.

Putin’s comments appeared to reflect his efforts to secure the loyalty of Wagner’s mercenaries, some of the most capable Russian forces in Ukraine, after the group’s brief uprising last month posed the most serious threat to his 23-year leadership. reign.

The Russian Defense Ministry said last week that Wagner was completing the handing over of his weapons to the Russian military, as part of Russian authorities’ efforts to defuse the threat posed by mercenaries who appeared to be announcing the end of their operations in Ukraine. where they had played. a prominent role as one of the most capable elements of the Russian forces.

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