The deal between Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin, which resulted in the departure of Wagner PMC mercenaries from Russia to Belarus, may have broken down, analysts of the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote.
They draw attention to reports that the Wagnerites in August began to leave the territory of Belarus and return to the Russian Federation. According to VChK-OGPU, the PMC of Yevgeny Prigozhin is withdrawing small groups of 500-600 people in Krasnodar krai, Voronezh and Rostov regions. The second stage will begin after August 13. Officially, it is called “vacation”, but no one talks about returning to Belarus.
A source of VChK-OGPU claims that Wagner PMC decided to leave because “president” Aleksandr Lukashenko refused to finance it when he found out that Russia would not pay for the stay of mercenaries on the territory of the republic, as he apparently expected.
A small group of Wagner instructors will remain in Belarus to train its military. The rest have been ordered to return to Russia and stay in touch until further notice.
On August 6, VChK-OGPU reported that the Wagner men in Belarus were offered a business trip to Libya, and those who refused began to be sent to Russia.
The next day, a post appeared in the Grey Zone group’s publick that 12,000 mercenaries were on vacation in Russia, 7,000 remained in Belarus and about 1,500 were transferred to African countries as part of the rotation. Another PMC-related channel reported about their probable return to Ukraine at the end of August.
In chat rooms, where relatives of the Wagnerites communicate, since August 6, they also began to write about the return of mercenaries home, reported Important Stories. The participants of the conversation said that only instructors and those willing to go to Africa remained in Belarus.
At the same time, paid vacation is provided only to those, whose contract has expired, while the rest are sent to the “reserve” at their own expense, until they are offered to return to service again. The sister of one of the mercenaries said that her brother decided to go on unpaid “vacation”, as he did not like the low salary in Belarus – Br100 thousand by PMC standards.
Those Wagnerites, who agreed to the “business trip” to Africa, are released to Russia to make their passports, confirmed several chat participants.
However, there are problems in this direction as well. As the Channel of the Visionary writes, “Africa is also taken away from Prigozhin and given to [Defense Minister Sergei] Shoigu”. There is no expansion of PMC activity on the continent, despite the coup and aggravation of the situation in Niger, the author of the channel notes, and Shoigu allegedly began to form 12 units of 1,000 people each for deployment to Africa.
In addition, this direction is claimed by former head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin, who proposed to the presidential administration to transfer all contracts of Prigozhin’s grouping in Africa to Convoy PMC and its CEO Konstantin Pikalov.
According to ISW analysts, Prigozhin’s “deal” with Putin, which allowed Wagner to continue its activities after the mutiny, is being thwarted: the head of state remains concerned about the threat Prigozhin poses to his long-term goals and seeks to destroy the businessman by creating a clear separation between him and PMCs.
At the same time, Shoigu’s intervention in Africa and the ousting of the Wagnerites from there has angered the group’s leadership and personnel. This “threatens to undermine the elaborate internal security façade that Putin has actively tried to create since the insurgency”, ISW adds.