Russia’s Wagner mercenaries begin joint training with Belarusian army near Polish border – Times of India

Moscow: Mercenaries Russiamilitary company of wagner On Thursday, joint exercises with the Belarusian army near the border with Poland began following their relocation to Belarus following a short-lived insurgency, a move that prompted Warsaw to redeploy its troops.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry said the week-long maneuvers would be held at a firing range near the border city of Brest and would involve Belarusian special forces. The ministry said Wagner’s combat experience would help modernize the Belarusian army.
A video released on Wednesday shows Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin for the first time since leading last month’s uprising. In the video, Prigozhin is seen telling his soldiers that they will spend some time training their forces in Belarus to help “make the Belarusian army the second strongest in the world” before being deployed to Africa.
In addition to his involvement in Ukraine, Wagner’s mercenaries have been sent to Syria and several African countries since forming the private army in 2014.
The UK government on Thursday froze the assets and imposed a travel ban on 13 of Wagner’s mercenaries over alleged attacks on civilians and other human rights abuses in Africa. Britain has already banned Prigozhin and several other Wagner commanders over the group’s role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In their mutiny that began on 23 June and lasted less than 24 hours, Prigozhin’s mercenaries captured the military headquarters in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don without firing a single shot, and then 200 kilometers from Moscow. (125 mi) , The rebellion met little resistance. The mercenaries shot down at least six military helicopters and a command post plane, killing at least 10 airmen.
Prigozhin called it a “march of justice” to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Staff Chief General Valery Gerasimov, who had demanded that the Wagner Forces sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense. He ordered his troops to return to their camps after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko struck an agreement to end the insurgency in exchange for an amnesty for Prigozhin and his fighters and permission to relocate to Belarus.
The rebellion poses the most serious threat to the 23-year rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin, eroding his authority and exposing the government’s weakness.
Belaruski Hajun, a Belarusian activist group that monitors troop movements in Belarus, said nine convoys with more than 2,000 Wagner mercenaries had already arrived in the country. About 10,000 Wagner troops are slated to deploy to Belarus, a Wagner commander said in a statement posted on a messaging app channel affiliated with the company.
Satellite photos from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press showed a convoy of vehicles at the base near Tsel in Belarus’ Asipovichi region, about 90 kilometers (about 55 miles) southeast of Minsk, which was presented to Wagner by Belarusian officials.
Belarus’ opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanousskaya, who was forced to leave the country after challenging Lukashenko in the 2020 election that the opposition and the West condemned as a fraud, said Wagner’s deployment to Belarus would help the country destabilize and threaten its neighbors.
“Wagner’s arrival will increase instability and no one will feel safe with these war criminals roaming the country,” he said. “They are extremely dangerous and their unpredictability increases the risk to Belarusians and our neighbors.”
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszak said on Thursday he had ordered some troops to be moved from the west of the country to Biała Podlaska, about 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Brest, and further north to Kolno.
“We must bear in mind that bringing a few thousand of Wagner’s army into Belarus poses a threat to our country, hence my decision to move some military units from the west of Poland to the east of Poland,” Blaszak told state radio 1. But said “Their task is to train and stop an aggressor, to show Russia that the Polish border should not be crossed, that it would be of no use to attack Poland.”
Some of the strong rhetoric can be attributed to early campaigning ahead of parliamentary elections due in autumn, in which the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party is expected to lose control of parliament.