(RepublicanJournal.org) – Dmitry Utkin and Yevgeny Prigozhin established the Wagner Group as a private mercenary organization composed mainly of Russian military veterans, and its troops have been active participants in President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine. Recently, a failed mutiny, the apparent result of in-fighting between the group and military leaders, led to Moscow reportedly disbanding Wagner, but a European satellite image offered evidence that the group might be building a new secret base in Belarus.
European satellite imagery appears to show Wagner building up military base in Belarus after Russia mutiny https://t.co/a8sAU6mTLm
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 30, 2023
BBC News reported that Prigozhin initiated a short-lived mutiny on June 24 after the Russian military bombed his troops stationed in Ukraine. Conflicts within the ranks may have come to a head when Prigozhin refused Moscow’s order to sign a contract that would have put the mercenary group officially under Kremlin command. The mercenary leader has openly criticized Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, claiming “incompetence.” On June 26, Prigozhin issued a video statement via Telegram, saying the Wagner Group’s goal was to lodge its protest, never “to overthrow the government in the country,” according to The New York Times. He hoped to spare Wagner’s troops from poor military leadership and destructive orders.
The Wagner Group subsequently stormed Rostov-on-Don, taking control of the Russian city, and then began marching toward Moscow with plans to oust its military leaders. Alexander Lukashenko, who leads Belarus, stepped in, offering to mediate negotiations between Prigozhin and Putin and prompting a halt to the advance. NBC News initially stated that Russian officials had likely detained the mutineer, but more recent reports say Russian authorities allowed Prigozhin to relocate to Belarus as an exile. Government officials also allowed troops loyal to him the option to relocate to Belarus, and Putin’s army absorbed the rest. Under the negotiated terms, the Russian government dropped all criminal charges.
The remnants of Prigozhin’s troops now reportedly fight under official Russian command, but details are sketchy on the group’s future. If interpretations of the new satellite images in Belarus are accurate, Putin’s new exiles have been busy. The remaining question is whether they’re building the base to support Russian efforts or their own.
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