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Belarusian leader Lukashenko issues warning to Wagner chiefs amid Putin meeting

Belarusian President Warns Wagner Mercenary Chiefs to Watch Out

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has disclosed that he issued a warning to the leaders of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, regarding potential threats to their lives. Lukashenko also asserted that the Wagner fighters would continue to operate in Belarus even after the reported deaths of their leaders in a .

Lukashenko played a pivotal role in the peaceful retreat of the Wagner fighters to Belarus following their failed in June. At the time, he convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin not to eliminate Prigozhin and his mercenary force. Lukashenko revealed that Prigozhin had disregarded concerns raised about his safety in the past, even in the face of Lukashenko’s warning that he would “die” if he proceeded with his march on Moscow.

During a recent , Lukashenko recounted a meeting with Prigozhin and Utkin, where he cautioned them to “watch out.” However, it remains unclear when this took place. Lukashenko, who has a longstanding acquaintance with Prigozhin and maintains a close alliance with Russia, expressed certainty that Putin was not involved in the plane crash.

“I know Putin: He is calculating, very calm, even tardy,” Lukashenko said. “I cannot imagine that Putin did it, that Putin is to blame. It’s just too rough and unprofessional a job.”

The rejected Western allegations that Prigozhin was assassinated on its orders, calling such claims an “absolute lie.” However, the Russian government refrained from definitively confirming Prigozhin’s death pending the results of tests.

Lukashenko also confirmed that the Wagner fighters would continue their operations in Belarus. “Wagner lived, Wagner is living, and Wagner will live in Belarus,” he declared. “As long as we need this unit, they will live and work with us.”

The Institute for the of War (ISW), a think tank based in Washington, DC, analyzed Lukashenko’s remarks and concluded that they were aimed at bolstering his image among his domestic audience. ISW suggested that Lukashenko’s portrayal of himself as a sovereign leader, independent of Russian , was an attempt to prevent his constituents from perceiving Putin’s alleged assassination of Prigozhin as a breach of the agreements Lukashenko had made with Wagner.

“Lukashenko likely hoped to underscore the initial and Wagner’s arrival in Belarus as examples of his ability to make high-level security decisions outside of the Kremlin’s dictates,” the ISW noted.

Overall, Lukashenko’s reflect his determined stance on maintaining Belarus’s sovereignty and his commitment to maintaining control over security decisions in the country.

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