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July 31 – August 6, 2023
Security issues

Wagnerians, Russian nuclear weapons, and the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant. Security factors of the regime?

The situation got worse
Wagnerians, Russian nuclear weapons, and the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant. Security factors of the regime?
ЧВК "Вагнер" на территории Беларуси

Wagner PMC continues to “dig in” in Belarus, risking drawing the country into the war against Ukraine. The regime believes that thanks to the presence of the Wagnerians, Russian nuclear weapons (NW) and the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant (BelNPP), no one will dare to attack. That’s why Lukashenka continues to issue assurances that the country is not preparing to enter the war. As negotiations began in Saudi Arabia to establish a baseline for ending the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia launched missile strikes on Ukrainian cities from Belarusian airspace. A further indication of Belarus’ expanding participation in the war is a plan to commence production of Shahid kamikaze drones, with which Russia attacks Ukraine almost daily.

Wagner PMC is building fortifications at the “Repisсhi” training ground near Osipovichi, 15 km away from the village of Tsel. Satellite images show the construction of fortifications, vehicles (similar to cars and UAZ minibuses) and construction equipment reminiscent of that previously seen in the Wagner convoy.

In addition to the Osipovichi camp, Wagner PMC has also occupied old military warehouses at the former army camp near the village of Poplavy. Activity here there was noticed after the appearance of large columns of Wagnerites in Belarus. The complex includes 15 buildings, ten warehouses, equipment storage and guard rooms.

Yevgeny Prigozhin declares that Wagner PMC has not yet begun recruitment and continues to operate in Africa and Belarus in “preparatory centres”. The Wagner Group is determining future tasks, the contours of which are “more and more drawn.” Prigozhin stressed that “these tasks will be performed in the name of the greatness of Russia.”

Meanwhile, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced that Russia may be preparing a false flag operation at the Mozyr refinery using military personnel transferred to Belarus in the guise of Wagnerites. According to the SBU, the sabotage and reconnaissance group will attack the refinery posing as Ukrainian saboteurs, creating a pretext to involve Belarus in a full-scale war.

Meanwhile, the regime continues to justify its decision to host Wagnerians to Belarusians. Lukashenka wants to use experienced Wagner PMC mercenaries to create a contract army to supplement the conscripts of the Belarusian military. He once again stressed that he would not fight, and the “musicians” (Wagnerians) did not seek an “excursion” to Rzeszow, Warsaw or the Suwalki Corridor.

Lukashenka added that more than half of the expected Russian nuclear warheads have already been delivered and dispersed throughout the country. He believes that no one will attack a nuclear-armed country and hopes that such weapons will not have to be used. As a last resort, the regime is ready to use the threat of undermining the BelNPP as a deterrent: “If it explodes, God forbid, then it will not seem enough, and there as well”.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin plans to increase the number of joint combat training centres in Belarus and Russia for all classes of troops, operating as military units for both countries.

As officials from 40 countries convened a summit in Jeddah to discuss critical principles for ending the Russian invasion, Russia launched missile strikes throughout Ukraine. Despite relocating nine fighters of the Russian Aerospace Forces from Belarus to Russia, they continued to use Belarusian airspace to launch missiles.

Plans to expand Belarus’ participation in the war are also indicated by the visit of Defence Minister Viktor Khrenin to Iran to negotiate the production of Shahid kamikaze drones at the Gomel Radio Plant.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.
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