Ukraine and Poland announce arrival of Wagner fighters in Belarus

(Reuters) – Wagner Group fighters have arrived in Belarus from Russia, Ukrainian and Polish officials said on Saturday, a day after Minsk said mercenaries were training the country’s soldiers southeast of the capital.

“Wagner is in Belarus,” Andriy Demchenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s border agency, said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app. He added that the movement of “separate groups” from Russia has been observed in Belarus.

Some Wagner fighters have been in Belarus since at least Tuesday, two sources familiar with the fighters told Reuters.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry released a video on Friday, showing what it says are Wagner fighters instructing Belarusian soldiers at a firing range near the town of Osipovichi.

Wagner’s move to Belarus was part of a deal that ended the group’s attempted mutiny in June after it took over a Russian military headquarters, marched on Moscow and threatened to tip Russia into war. civil war, said President Vladimir Putin.

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has not been seen in public since leaving the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on June 24.

Poland’s Coordinating Deputy Minister for Special Services, Stanislaw Zaryn, said Warsaw also had confirmation of the presence of Wagner’s fighters in Belarus.

“There may be several hundred right now,” Zaryn said on Twitter.

Poland said earlier in July it was strengthening its border with Belarus to deal with any potential threats.

The Belarusian Hajun Project monitors military activity in the country and is considered an extremist organization by Belarusian authorities. He said a large caravan of at least 60 vehicles – including pickup trucks, vans and buses – entered Belarus on Friday night from Russia.

Hajun said it appeared to be a group from Wagner heading towards Tsel in central Belarus.

Reuters could not independently verify the Belarusian Hajun report. There was no immediate comment from Russia or Belarus on the reports.

(Written by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Mark Trevelyan in London)

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