Vladimir Putin slams ‘treason’ from Wagner mercenary group
A large column of military trucks belonging to Wagner has been spotted entering Belarus, according to reports by independent media in the country.
The military convoy, consisting of at least 60 vehicles, was seen heading towards the tent camp in Tsel village, where the militia fighters are to be based. The latest update comes just a day after a photo purported to be of Prigozhin, showed him sitting in his pants in a tent, apparently already in the camp in Osipovichi, Belarus.
Last month, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin launched a mutiny that came within a whisker of toppling Putin.
At the eleventh hour he got cold feet and called off the revolt, as his troops bore down on Moscow.
In a deal brokered by President Aleksandr Lukashenko, it was agreed that the Wagner warlord and his fighters would relocate to Belarus.
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However, up until today the militia has been mostly conspicuous by its absence from Belarus, with only a few of its military trainers seen in the country.
The independent Belarusian Hajun Project news outlet said in a news bulletin on Saturday: “This morning, July 15, a large column of cars and trucks with license plates of the so-called DNR/LNR was spotted in Belarus.
“The combination of factors indicates that it’s a column of PMC Wagner, which entered Belarus from Russia near Krychau this night.
“According to our data, the column included at least 60 vehicles, among them pickups, large trucks, vans (Bukhanka) and at least 3 buses for the transportation of people.
“The column was escorted by the traffic police of Belarus.”
The prospect of a large contingent of Wagner fighters living on their doorstep has prompted many young women to flee the area.
Wagner boosted its ranks by recruiting criminals from Russian prisons last autumn and over the winter.
Many were serving long sentences for violent crimes, including rape – a fact that has not gone unnoticed by concerned locals.
Crimean Wind Telegram channel said: “Young women and girls living near the location of the PMC Wagner detachments in the Mogilev region began to travel to relatives in other regions of Belarus for fear of being subjected to violence by Prigozhin’s militants.”
The initial encampment holds up to 298 tents accommodating 30 people each, according to reports.
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Last week, Wagner units began handing over their weapons and ammunition to Russia’s Ministry of Defence, indicating the militia is abiding by the terms of the negotiated truce.
The ministry confirmed it had received more than 2,000 pieces of equipment, including hundreds of tanks and more than 2,500 tonnes of ammunition.
Prigozhin’s whereabouts since have been unclear, with Lukashenko and flight data indicating that the warlord had returned to his Russian home town of St Petersburg.
Analysts and people close to Prigozhin told the Financial Times he had probably been given some time to wind down his businesses before settling in Belarus.
However, a retired four star US General believes that the militia boss could already be dead.
During an interview with ABC News, Robert Abrams was asked whether Prigozhin was still alive.
The former commander of United States Forces Korea replied: “I personally don’t think he is, and if he is, he’s in a prison somewhere.”
Putin has a reputation for holding a grudge against those he believes have betrayed him.
The Kremlin tyrant is believed to have sanctioned the poisonings of former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko using polonium and the ex-Russian military intelligence officer Sergey Skripal using novichok.
Both men were living in the UK at the time of the attacks. Mr Litvinenko unfortunately died, while Mr Skripal lived to tell the tale.
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