Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mastermind of Russia’s 24-hour uprising, has arrived in Belarus three days after the uprising by his Wagner mercenary force was put an end 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Moscow.
Leader Alexander Lukashenko declared, “Yes, indeed, he’s in Belarus today,” taking responsibility for organising his exile.
Since he was captured on camera driving away in southern Russia on Saturday night, Prigozhin’s whereabouts have remained a mystery. On Tuesday, his private aircraft was observed landing in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
If the Wagner mercenaries decided to follow their boss, an abandoned military installation was made available to them, according to Lukashenko: “There is a fence, everything is available, erect your tents.”
Prigozhin has been granted security as part of the agreement that put an end to the mutiny, and Wagner’s criminal lawsuit against Russia has been shelved.
Russia is getting ready to hand over the heavier weaponry used by the mercenaries to the regular military, and the fighters have been told they can either sign contracts with the regular army, return home, or move to Belarus.
Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania, all NATO members, have issued warnings that Wagner’s entry into Belarus may cause problems for their neighbours. The mercenaries, according to a presidential adviser from Lithuania, are dangerous because they could engage in sabotage and infiltration activities.
Gitanas Nauseda, the president of Lithuania, stated during a press conference that if Wagner sent its “serial killers” to Belarus, the surrounding nations would be in “even greater danger of instability.”
Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO, stated that the organisation was prepared to defend itself from any threat posed by “Moscow or Minsk” and that a meeting to be held in Lithuania the following week would decide to reinforce its defences, paying special attention to countries bordering Belarus. Talking about the preparation, Stoltenberg said, “We have sent a clear message to Moscow and to Minsk that Nato is there to protect every ally and every inch of Nato territory.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that these tactical nuclear weapons would only be utilised if Russian territory was threatened as Russia recently transported them into Belarus.
Lukashenko only suggested that the Wagnerites might be able to assist the Belarusian military by sharing their knowledge of strategies and equipment.
After 23 years of Putin’s administration, the ease with which the mutineers took over Rostov-on-Don and then drove so far north with no resistance has revealed significant flaws in the Kremlin’s control of Russian security.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, dismissed as “hysteria” claims that the events of Friday and Saturday had weakened his hold on authority.
However, when the Russian security forces had saved their country, President Putin himself told them that they had “de facto stopping a civil war in its tracks” in a Kremlin square.