New Wagner recruits are now being told they must agree to fight inside NATO countries Poland and Lithuania when they sign up, Ukraine claims
- Wagner group is rebasing to Belarus weeks after aborted mutiny in Russia
- Its mercenaries are now training Belarusian army units in military field camps
New Wagner mercenary recruits are told they must agree to fight inside Nato countries Poland and Lithuania when they sign contracts, Ukraine’s National Resistance Centre has claimed.
The mercenary group is in the process of rebasing to Belarus after its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin called off an attempted mutiny against the Russian defence ministry last month.
Since arriving in the country Wagner mercenaries have been housed in field camps and are delivering training to Belarusian forces.
But Ukraine claims Wagner is recruiting new fighters in Belarus in an attempt to swell its ranks in preparation for future warfare, potentially on Nato territory.
Newly-recruited mercenaries must agree ‘to participate in hostilities on the territory of the countries neighbouring Belarus, in particular, Poland and Lithuania,’ according to the centre.
Wagner private mercenary army pictured in Belarus, July 2023
Since arriving in the country Wagner mercenaries have been housed in field camps and are delivering training to Belarusian forces
A Wagner-linked attack on a Nato territory would constitute grounds for the security alliance to enter into an armed conflict.
At least 5,000 Wagner troops have rebased to Belarus where they are supposed to train the army of autocrat Alexander Lukashenko.
Lithuania has declared Wagner a terrorist organisation, and Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak vowed on July 18 to reinforce his border with two additional military brigades due to the Wagner Group’s presence.
Could Wagner really invade Poland and trigger WW3? What an attack on key land corridor could mean for the UK, Europe and Russia’s war in Ukraine
The border between Poland and Lithuania has been called Nato’s ‘weakest link’.
The Suwalki Corridor is a 60-mile strip of land which has massive strategic importance for Nato and the EU – as well as Russia.
For the West, it is the only land link to the three ex-Soviet Baltic republics – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – which are seen as vulnerable to Putin if the current east-west tension worsens.
For Russia, control of the corridor would give a land link between the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, main base of Putin’s Baltic Fleet, and firm Kremlin ally Belarus.
Russian reservist Col-Gen Andrey Kartapolov, also an MP and chairman of the Russian parliament’s defence committee, said earlier this month that Wagner forces could be deployed here.
‘There is such a place as the Suwalki Corridor.
‘Should anything happen, we need this Suwalki Corridor very much.
‘A strike force [based in Wagner forces in Belarus] is ready to take this corridor in a matter of hours.’
His ‘shock fist’ land grab plan would hit sparsely populated territory which has been labelled Nato’s ‘Achilles heel’ or ‘soft underbelly’.
Because it could be the first point of contact in a Third World War, the corridor has been branded ‘the most dangerous place on Earth’.
A Russian move here with state-backed Wagner would likely trigger Nato’s clause 5, setting the Alliance against Russia.
Yet Poland is rapidly rearming due to the threat from Moscow, and Germany is to deploy 4,000 troops permanently in Lithuania as Nato strengthens its presence in the Baltic states.
It comes as Wagner’s commander Prigozhin was purportedly pictured in St. Petersburg today at Russia’s summit for African leaders.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin looks to have made a surprise appearance at the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg today, just weeks after his group of mercenaries aborted rebellion against the Russian defence ministry
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Comoros Azali Assoumani (right) arriving for a plenary session of the Second Summit Economic and Humanitarian Forum ‘Russia-Africa’ in St. Petersburg
Prigozhin, 62, was seen alongside a man believed to be a member of the Central African Republic’s delegation to the summit, where a slew of African leaders are meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Prigozhin’s presence at a Russian summit of African leaders and his meeting a CAR delegate would certainly make sense, given the Wagner group’s extensive operational scope in numerous African countries including the CAR, Libya, Mali, Sudan, Mozambique and Burkina Faso.
They are also understood to operate in Niger, where a coup was carried out on Wednesday by the country’s presidential guard.
Its goals differ in each region, but Wagner operations almost invariably involve bolstering the military forces of the Kremlin’s preferred regimes in Africa by delivering weapons and training, and providing additional security services.
In return, Russia gains access to natural resources, investment opportunities and geopolitical influence.
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