Alexander Lukashenko has confirmed the arrival of the founder of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), Yevgeny Prigozhin, in Belarus, according to a report by state-owned news agency BelTA. Lukashenko stressed that the security guarantees recently promised by Vladimir Putin had been provided.
“As I promised, if you want to stay with us for a while, we'll help you. Naturally, at [Wagner’s] own expense.”
According to Lukashenko, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said he “wouldn't mind” having a unit of Wagner fighters in the army. “I agree. Talk to them,” Lukashenko said.
“We offered them one of the abandoned units. Please, there is a fence, there’s everything. Put up tents. We’ll help with what we can. While they decide what they’re going to do. [...]
But for now they are in Luhansk in their camps. And as Prigozhin, who called me yesterday, told me, some [mercenaries] will sign a contract with the Defense Ministry. But, he said, the most important thing is that his guys have not been home for half a year, a year. And it was important for me to agree with Putin that he would not touch them. [Putin] promised and he keeps his promise. They want to go to their families.”
The PMC will also not open any recruiting centers in Belarus.
Lukashenko added that “the Poles and others” allegedly believe that the Wagner PMC’s mercenaries would guard Russian nuclear weapons stationed in Belarus.
“No nuclear weapons will be guarded by Wagner. They’ll be guarded, since some of the nuclear weapons (I will not say how much) – most of them – have already been brought into Belarus. It's surprising that they haven't traced it. Russians and Belarusians are guarding [the weapons]. We work together. We have no such experience. The Russians service it. We help maintain these nuclear weapons.”