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July 17 – July 23, 2023
Security issues

Welcome to Hell! Wagner PMC receives a Belarusian residence permit as the regime threatens to attack Poland and western Ukraine

The situation got worse

Wagner PMC has received a permanent residence permit in Belarus, erecting a tent camp at the former military base in the village of Tsel near Osipovichi. The number of “Wagnerites” on Belarusian territory may reach 10k, with another 15k available in late summer – early autumn. The ultimate goals of the Wagner PMC are not fully understood. Theories range from a transit base to Africa to an attack on Ukraine from the north or even raids on Poland. However, there is no doubt that they remain coordinated with the Kremlin, which maintains funding and support, despite the attempted “rebellion”.

Welcome to Hell! Wagner PMC receives a Belarusian residence permit as the regime threatens to attack Poland and western Ukraine

On July 19th, in the village of Tsel, Osipovichy district, where the Wagner field camp is located, Yevgeny Prigozhin registered Concord Management and Consulting LLC with Belarusian authorities. The company activity is declared to be “Real Estate Management”, and it is 100% owned by Concord Management and Consulting LLC in Russia, also headed by Prigozhin. The Belarusian subsidiary will be financed by its Russian parent.

The fact that Prigozhin’s companies concluded new and retained the old contracts following the military “rebellion” indicate that Prigozhin and Wagner PMC retain support from the Russian state and government. This again underlines the fact that Prigozhin and Wagner PMC were sent to Belarus not in honourable exile but on a special mission.

Ten columns of Wagnerites have arrived in Belarus from eastern Ukraine, and the total number of Wagner fighters on Belarusian territory is estimated at 5k. In addition, Wagner headquarters moved to Belarus from Molkino in Krasnodar.

It is known that the senior Wagner commander in Belarus will be an individual named Sergei with the call sign “Pioneer”.

Wagner PMC claims that up to 10k Wagner soldiers will transfer to Belarus, and the camp is tentatively designed for this number. Another 15,000 fighters are on “vacation” and will be ready to arrive in Belarus at the end of August if necessary.

Theories regarding the purpose of Wagner PMC on the Belarusian frontier vary. One possibility is a special mission for the Kremlin to establish additional control over Belarus and ideologically influence Belarusian security forces. Others include a breakthrough of the Suwalki corridor or a new attack on Ukraine from Belarusian territory. The Belarusian regime threatens Wagner PMC raids on Warsaw and Rzeszow and a joint invasion of western Ukraine. According to Lukashenka, western Ukraine is threatened with “dismemberment” and “transfer of land to Poland”, but Belarus is ready to provide “assistance and support” to the Ukrainian population.

Prigozhin declares that the Wagnerites will make the Belarusian army number two in the world and use the camp in Belarus for training before missions in Africa. However, this would only amount to the rotation of contingents. PMC commander Dmitry Utkin (call sign “Wagner”) greeted his men with the cry “Welcome to Hell!” and referred to a new phase and the beginning of the “biggest work in the world”.

Be that as it may, the Wagnerites have already begun training Belarusian security forces, particularly emphasising Belarusian special operations troops. A joint exercise was conducted at the Brest training ground with the 38th separate airborne assault brigade.

Lukashenka brought a map of Polish troop movements along the borders of the Union State to a meeting with Putin in St. Petersburg. Allegedly, one Polish brigade is now located 40 km from Brest and another about 100 km from Grodno. Earlier, the Kremlin promised to respond with all available means to aggression against Belarus.

The main question is whether these statements by Minsk and the Kremlin constitute strategic disinformation to pressure the West or an ideological justification for preparing for war with Poland and NATO. Considering the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, the second scenario cannot be completely ruled out.

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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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