Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the army to strengthen the northern direction after the deployment of the Wagner PMC in Belarus.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. At the meeting, the army chiefs as well as intelligence officers presented the president with a separate report on the situation in Belarus.
“By the decision of the Stavka to the Commander-in-Chief [of the AFU Valery] Zaluzhny and the commander of the “North” [Sergei] Nayev – to implement a set of measures to strengthen this direction”, Zelensky said in an evening address.
Earlier, Zaluzhny said in an interview with The Washington Post that he was concerned about the transfer of Wagner fighters to Belarus. “I’m worried about a lot of things, including the Wagner. Our task is to prepare for the worst and most likely scenario. And we will try to minimize the possible consequences of what could be”, Zaluzhny said.
After the attempted military mutiny, organized by the mercenaries of the Wagner PMC in Russia, the organization will be based in Belarus. The founder of the PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, will also be relocated there.
It has not yet been reported on the arrival of the mercenaries in the republic, but a cargo plane associated with the organization has flown from Moscow to Belarus, reported the publication “Dosje” on June 30. The ship is under U.S. sanctions for transporting Wagner PMC personnel and equipment.
Vladimir Putin said in his statement that the Wagner mercenaries could go to Belarus, or sign a contract with the Defense Ministry and stay in Russia. Prigozhin himself acknowledged that Lukashenko “extended his hand and offered to find ways for further existence of Wagner in a legal field”. According to “Verstka”, they have already started to build camps for the Wagner activists in the republic.
“If they (Wagner PMC mercenaries. – TMT’s commentary) want to (I understand they are looking at separate territories), we will accommodate them. Put your tents, please. But for now, they are in Luhansk in their camps”, Lukashenko said.
The placement of PMC mercenaries in Belarus prompted Polish authorities to strengthen the border with the republic. “We potentially have a new situation in Belarus with the presence of Wagner”, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said at a news conference in Warsaw on Wednesday. “The situation is dangerous for Ukraine and also potentially dangerous for Lithuania and for us”. The Polish government estimates that about 8,000 Wagner fighters could arrive in Belarus, which could mean “a new phase of hybrid warfare”. According to Kaczynski, Poland plans to increase its military presence on the border with Belarus and build new defenses there.