Russia ‘funding private army of mercenaries in Belarus’
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GuardService PMC has been authorised by dictator Alexander Lukashenko to train with small arms, including pistols, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and specialist air defence equipment. Based at Maryina Horka, near Minsk, the new fighting force has around 1,000 mercenaries, each earning £3,200 a month.
But their number is growing, with recruits creamed from special operations forces and Belarusian law enforcement agencies.
New research from Molfar, a Kyiv-based community of 250 intelligence analysts, has revealed that at least partial funding is being provided by the Kremlin, while training is being given by Belarus’ 5th Spetsnaz (Special Forces) Brigade as well as professional mercenaries with Russia’s Wagner group.
Wagner, owned by Putin crony Yevgeny Prigozhin and bankrolled by Russian intelligence agency GRU, recently took credit for taking the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, which saw some of the war’s most intense combat.
Lukashenko owes his stolen election victory in 2020 to Russian support, and the close ties between Moscow and Minsk have seen Belarus transformed into a Russian client state.
It has been used as a launching pad for the February 24 invasion, and subsequent Iskander missile strikes carried out by some of the 30,000 Russian soldiers based there.
A spokesman for Molfar said: “This may be a psychological operation to force Ukraine’s military leadership to keep combat-ready units and heavy weapons along the border with Belarus, thereby reducing their deployment elsewhere.
“But our main hypothesis is that the GuardService mercenaries are being trained as assault troops, specifically for reconnaissance units or highly mobile combat groups.”
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