The Unconventional Resolution: A Deal Between Kremlin, Lukashenka, and PMC Wagner
The highly publicized “mutiny” of PMC “Wagner,” led by its informal leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, concluded in a remarkably unconventional manner. The Kremlin and “Wagner” reached a deal, facilitated by the mediation of Aliaksandr Lukashenka. The presence of the “Wagnerites” in Belarus promises the regime both benefits (increased expansion in Africa) and risks (Western sanctions).
The Wagner raid on Moscow became an opportunity for Lukashenka to demonstrate his loyalty to the Kremlin, as well as earn additional political points in the eyes of Vladimir Putin, playing his technical role of “peacemaker” in resolving the confrontation between Prigozhin and the Kremlin. It is possible that Lukashenka personally learned about the scenario for the outcome of this crisis and his role in it from Putin on Friday morning during a telephone conversation in the midst of the Wagnerite march on Moscow, when the parties “agreed on joint actions” against the backdrop of the situation in southern Russia .
Thus, the Security Council of Belarus did not dare to directly condemn the rebellion of the head of the Wagner PMC, Prigozhin. The Security Council’s appeal explicitly expresses support for Russia and its goals and objectives in what is referred to as the “special military operation.” The Russian invasion of Ukraine was called “a forced and justified mission to protect the Russian people in the Donbas.” However, the Security Council emphasized that “any provocation, any internal conflict in the military and political circles, in the information field and in civil society is a gift to the collective West.” The appeal calls for an end to “the unacceptable confrontation within a military brotherhood united in its goals” and a return to combat positions in Ukraine – “where the future of the Slavic world, the fate of millions of our people is being decided.”
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During the development of the morning agreements, Lukashenko established contact with Prigozhin, further clarifying the situation through his own communication channels and in consultation with Putin.
Negotiations continued throughout the day. Consequently, the parties reached an agreement on the imperative need to prevent the outbreak of a violent bloodshed on Russian soil.
Prigozhin accepted Lukashenka’s proposal to stop the movement of armed persons of Wagner PMC on the territory of Russia and take further steps to de-escalate tensions. On his part, Prigozhin was offered “an absolutely convenient and acceptable option for solving the situation”, with security guarantees for the fighters of the Wagner PMC. It is rumored that this option also involves the alleged resignation of the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defense, with whom Prigozhin has been openly feuding in recent times. Additionally, the agreement entails a renewed emphasis for PMC Wagner on prioritizing African projects as their main focus, along with the cessation of Prigozhin’s criminal prosecution.
Based on subsequent statements from the Russian side, it can be inferred that these security guarantees entail the relocation of the Wagner PMC members involved in the “mutiny,” along with Prigozhin, to Belarus.
Against the backdrop of these events, Lukashenko held two meetings with the leaders of the security agencies, as well as with the military leadership.
In addition to the perceived political benefits as a negotiator in the eyes of the Kremlin, the presence of Prigozhin and the “Wagnerites” in Belarus presents Lukashenka with further opportunities. These opportunities include enhancing the regime’s expansion in Africa through collaboration with the Wagner PMC and involvement in Prigozhin’s business ventures on the African continent. Belarusian diplomacy has recently shifted its focus towards the African continent.
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However, the presence of Prigozhin and the Wagner PMC in Belarus raises the possibility of new Western sanctions being imposed on Belarus. This consideration takes into account ongoing discussions in the West regarding the potential inclusion of Wagner PMC on the list of terrorist organizations.
Finally, it is possible that the military rebellion that began as a “march of justice against Moscow” and its “turn” towards Belarus is a cover operation to begin the concentration of Russian troops on the territory of Belarus in order to prepare for a new offensive against Ukraine from the north.
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Situation in Belarus