NATO countries in Eastern Europe have warned that Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin’s move from Russia to Belarus could pose a greater threat in the region.
“If Wagner deploys forces in Belarus, neighboring countries may face a greater risk of instability,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on June 27 after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the leader of NATO. lead six other member states.
At the meeting, Polish President Andrzej Duda also emphasized: “This is really serious and very worrying, we need definitive decisions. It requires NATO to give a tough answer.”
President Duda hopes the topic of the threat from Wagner will be one of the focuses of the NATO summit agenda in July.
The warning comes as some senior officials and experts say Wagner’s presence in Belarus could pose a greater threat to border defenses in the north.
According to an agreement with the Russian government after the failed rebellion last weekend, tycoon Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin June 27 landed in Belarus. Russian President Vladimir Putin also made it clear that any member of Wagner can choose to move operations to Belarus – an ally of Moscow.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that Prigozhin was in the country. He insisted that he would not build a barracks for Wagner, but would provide them with accommodation at an abandoned military base. Belarus also does not plan to allow Wagner to open recruitment centers in the country.
NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said it was too early to determine how this might affect NATO allies. The alliance, he noted, has beefed up defenses on the bloc’s eastern flank in recent years.
“We have sent a clear message to Moscow and Minsk that NATO is there to protect every ally, every inch of NATO territory,” Stoltenberg said.
“We have increased our military presence in the eastern part of the alliance and will make further decisions to further strengthen our collective defense at the upcoming summit,” he added.
According to him, Wagner’s rebellion over the weekend shows the division within Russia over a “special military operation” in Ukraine. However, he also noted: “We should not underestimate Russia and more importantly we need to continue to support Ukraine.”
In another development, according to the US Department of Defense, after the weekend uprising in Russia, Wagner forces are still present on the Ukrainian battlefield.
“However, how they allocate positions, moving or not moving, we do not comment on that,” US Department of Defense spokesman Patrick Ryder said on June 27.
He also said that the US has not made any adjustments to its forces after the events of the weekend in Russia.