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About 4,000 Wagner fighters located in Belarus says PM

Artur Reszko/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has said that about 4,000 Wagner mercenaries are currently located on the territory of Belarus.

The Polish prime minister on Thursday met the president of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, in the Suwalki Gap, a strategic stretch of Polish territory lying between Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, close to which the Wagner Group, a Russian private mercenary organisation, has recently moved some of its fighters.

The two leaders discussed the threats posed by the presence of Russian mercenaries in Belarus, among other issues.

At a joint press conference with Nauseda, Morawiecki said that “according to our data, there are about 4,000 of them on the territory of Belarus, and according to the information received from the president (Nauseda – PAP) – even a little more.”

The presence of the Wagner fighters is a way for Russia “to test the reaction of Poland and the reaction of our allies,” Morawiecki said.

“The Wagner Group is extremely dangerous and the units of this group are deployed to Nato’s eastern flank to destabilise it,” Morawiecki said, calling them a real threat.

Nauseda shared Morawiecki’s concerns about the Wagner fighters.

“We see that a military group in Belarus can be a great temptation for Lukashenko and Putin to use them to provoke Nato countries,” the Lithuanian president said.

“We are considering closing the border with Belarus, but it would have to be coordinated with Poland and Latvia,” he added.

He agreed with Morawiecki about the importance of the Suwalki Gap, saying that it “remains a possible target for provocations by Belarusian and Russian services.”

He also pointed out that the Polish and Lithuanian sides compared the data and “they are very similar” when it comes to the number of Wagner fighters located in Belarus.

“The Wagner Group has already more than 4,000 people in Belarus,” he said.

The Wagner Group has been building up its presence in Belarus after a failed mutiny against the Russian authorities in late June as Belarusian strongman President Alexander Lukashenko mediated between the Wagner Group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Following the negotiations, Lukashenko decided to offer a safe haven in Belarus to Prigozhin and his mercenaries. 

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