Vladimir Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, prompt that European leaders be grateful that he had solely joked about deploying Wagner Group troops in opposition to them.
Wagner mercenaries are at present stationed in Belarus after a quick tried mutiny on Moscow instigated in June by the paramilitary group’s chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin. The transfer generated unease amongst a variety of nations in Jap Europe, together with Poland, which shares a border with Belarus to the northeast. In response, the Polish army deployed troops to the border within the occasion of an assault by Wagner forces.
Lukashenko mentioned in an interview with the Russian information outlet Interfax on July 23 that Wagner troops in his nation have been turning into stressed, and that he would possibly encourage them to march on Poland.
“The Wagnerites began to hassle us,” the Belarusian chief mentioned. “They are saying, ‘We wish to go West. Allow us to.’ I ask them, Why West? ‘Effectively, to go on an tour to Warsaw, to Rzeszow.’ I am maintaining them within the heart of Belarus, as was agreed upon, I might not wish to relocate them there, as a result of they’re in a foul temper.”
The remarks did little to dampen concern amongst Polish leaders, together with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who days later voiced worries a few group of roughly 100 Wagner troops who gave the impression to be transferring in the direction of the Suwałki Hole, a key strategic space for Poland and different international locations within the area.
On Tuesday, nevertheless, Lukashenko mentioned throughout a go to to a farming group that the remarks had solely been a joke and prompt that European leaders needs to be thanking him for not deploying Wagner forces in opposition to them.
“I joked about Wagnerites whispering amongst themselves, ‘Let’s take an tour to Rzeszow,'” Lukashenko mentioned. “Why? As a result of gear and weapons had been coming from Rzeszow to the place these Wagnerites had been combating, by Artyomovsk. Hundreds of their guys had been killed there, and so they’re not going to forgive this.
“Belarus and I needs to be thanked for inviting these fighters over. It is not only a thousand males. I do not even wish to say. As of at this time, they management over 30,000 individuals.”
He continued: “These guys are charged for a battle, they’re resentful. Lots of them have been maimed and killed, and do you assume they will forgive it? No, they will not. So let others pray that we hold them right here and handle them, roughly. In any other case, they’d seep over there and deal such a blow to Rzeszow and Warsaw that they would not ask for extra. So, as a substitute of complaining, they higher thank me.”