Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin shared a video Wednesday that appears to show him in Belarus.
Prigozhin told the assembled mercenaries to prepare for future deployments.
“It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning,” he assured them.
Yevgeny Prigozhin appears to be back in Belarus. The boss of the famed Wagner mercenary group posted a video on Wednesday — seemingly from the group’s new base camp in exile — in which he promises his fighters that more deployments are coming.
But maybe not in Ukraine, at least anytime soon.
“Right now, what is happening on the front is a disgrace that we don’t need to get involved with,” Prigozhin said in the nearly six-minute video, shared on his personal Telegram channel. Instead, Wagner forces will “stay here in Belarus for some time,” Prigozhin said in the darkly lit video, tents visible in the background, where the men will defend the country “in the event that it becomes necessary.”
Following Prigozhin’s aborted mutiny last month, in which he accused Russia’s military leaders of bungling and lying about the war in Ukraine, Wagner fighters were supposed to relocate to a training camp in neighboring Belarus under a deal negotiated by the country’s president, Alexandr Lukashenko. Photos of the makeshift camp showed it could house thousands of soldiers. Last week, Belarus’ defense ministry announced that the men had begun training the country’s territorial defense units.
In recent weeks, however, the Wagner boss had himself been spotted inside Russia. The Kremlin even confirmed that he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin just days after calling off his rebellion.
The video posted Wednesday appears to confirm that Prigozhin is now with his men in Belarus, his remarks also appearing to confirm their short-term mission.
But Prigozhin also hinted at bigger things to come, outside Belarus. While seeking to assure his mercenaries that they are beloved by the Belarusian people, claiming that local women are even said to be “buzzing with lust,” Prigozhin also told them to prepare for future deployments abroad, including a “new journey to Africa.”
“And perhaps we will return at a time when we are confidant that we will not be forced to shame ourselves,” he added, appearing to refer to Ukraine.
In recent years, Wagner mercenaries have deployed to Libya, Mali, and the Central African Republic, where they have been accused of terrorizing local populations as they combat insurgent groups. These deployments have been seen as extending the Russian government’s influence in the region and are one reason many believe Putin is loath to dismantle the Wagner Group, despite its participation in what he termed an act of treason.
Prigozhin, in the video posted Wednesday, suggested Wagner’s mission is far from over.
“It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning,” he said. “The biggest job in the world [is] coming up very soon,” he continued, adding: “We’ll definitely be traveling all over the world.”
Have a news tip? Email this reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read the original article on Business Insider