Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko said Thursday that the head of the Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is currently in Russia and not in Belarus, where he allegedly received an order to remain after his failed riot against the Kremlin on June 23 due to disagreements over the conduct of the war in Ukraine.
Lukashenko also put on the table the need to negotiate peace with Ukraine without preconditions, although he was of the opinion that kyiv’s counteroffensive will not be successful. “Today we can talk and reach some kind of agreement,” he said. A few days before the NATO Summit in Vilnius (Lithuania), the president believes that Ukraine will try to “prove something” and intensify the fight.
“As far as Prigozhin is concerned, he is in St. Petersburg. He is not on Belarusian territory,” Lukashenko said in a meeting with the press. Last week, the president assured that Prigozhin had arrived in Belarus by virtue of a deal reached between the Kremlin and the military after the Wagner rebellion, in which Lukashenko mediated. “He was provided with security guarantees, as promised by Russian President Vladimir Putin,” the president said at the time.
“As far as Prigozhin is concerned, he is in Saint Petersburg. He is not on Belarusian territory,” Lukashenko said.
On June 27, the Belarusian investigative group Gayun reported the arrival of Prigozhin’s private plane in Minsk, although it reported almost fifteen hours after the plane, an Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft, had returned to Russia.
On the 1st, the same Gayun group – which is dedicated to monitoring military activity in Belarusian territory – pointed out that Prigozhin’s aircraft had landed again at the Machulishchi military airfield in Minsk. After seven and a half hours in Belarus, Wagner’s boss’s private jet left again.
the russian medium fontanka also reported that Prigozhin was seen on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, where a pistol and other weapons seized during a police search were returned to him.
At the conference this Thursday, Lukashenko assured that Vladimir Putin knows Prigozhin much better than he does. “You have to understand… that I have only seen him during the organization of some events,” he said, while the Russian president “has known him since the time when they both lived and worked in St. Petersburg” and “had a very close relationship. good,” he added.
Prigozhin is free, added Lukashenko, who said that the last time he had communicated by phone with the Russian businessman was this Wednesday. “Yesterday afternoon we spoke with him on the phone and discussed some moments related to Wagner’s next actions,” he revealed.
“What will happen to him next? Well, anything can happen in life. But if you think Putin is so evil and vindictive that he will ‘crush’ you somewhere tomorrow… No, this won’t happen.”
In that conversation, according to Lukashenko, Prigozhin assured him that he would continue to work “for the good of Russia.” “What will happen to him afterwards? Well, anything can happen in life. But if they think Putin is so evil and vengeful that he will ‘crush’ him somewhere tomorrow… No, this will not happen,” he stressed.
For its part, the Kremlin assured this Thursday that it is not following the movements of Wagner’s boss. “We have neither the time nor the desire to do it,” said the spokesman for the Russian Presidency, Dmitri Peskov, at his daily press conference.
Peskov declined to answer the question of whether Prigozhin is violating the terms of the pact reached with the Kremlin at the end of June, insisting that at this time he cannot add anything more to what has already been said.
This Thursday it was also learned that Belarus will sign a legally binding contract with Wagner, although so far the details of his presence in the country have not been defined, since the mercenaries have “a different vision” of their deployment.
“At the level of law or presidential decree, the framework in which this unit will operate will be determined,” said the head of state in a meeting with foreign and Belarusian media, according to the official Belta news agency.
Lukashenko explained that the issue of Wagner’s deployment to Belarus is pending: “To date, the issue of redeployment and deployment of the unit has not been resolved.”
Lukashenko explained that the question of Wagner’s deployment in Belarus is pending. “To date, the issue of redeployment and deployment of the unit has not been resolved,” he said. “We are not building camps. We offered them several former military camps that were used in wartime. Even near Osipovichi,” southeast of Minsk, he said.
The president assured that the decision does not depend on him, but on Moscow and the mercenaries, who are still in their camps in Russia, he stressed. He also emphasized that it is the most experienced unit in combat and that it can serve to defend Belarus if the country is attacked, but assured that no one will be attacked from Belarusian territory, nor will Ukraine be attacked from the southern border.
“We have never attacked anyone. I have said this before. And we are not going to attack. And no one will attack anyone from our territory. If an aggression is committed against us, we will respond. And if the Wagner Group is here, they, as well than the Belarusian Army, will defend our interests,” he stressed.
Lukashenko also announced that he plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon, with whom he will address the issue of the future of the Wagner group.
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