Yevgeny Prigozhin ‘in Belarus’ as Russia says Wagner will hand over weapons

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Wagner group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has arrived in Belarus, the nation’s chief mentioned on Tuesday, as Moscow added that the paramilitary group had agreed handy over its weapons to the Russian army.

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered the deal that ended the abortive rebellion and gave Prigozhin secure passage out of Russia, spoke as Moscow reorganised its armed forces within the wake of the insurrection.

“Safety ensures . . . had been offered,” Lukashenko mentioned as he gave a prolonged account of the negotiations that helped flip Wagner’s forces again from their advance on Moscow. He added that Prigozhin had flown into his nation and “is in Belarus at the moment”.

The developments on Tuesday got here after President Vladimir Putin had urged Wagner’s fighters — beforehand among the nation’s simplest combatants within the Ukraine conflict — to affix the Russian military, stand down or go away nationwide territory.

With Wagner dealing with dismantlement, Russia’s nationwide guard is now set to be armed with tanks and heavy weaponry.

Putin added that Wagner’s paramilitaries had been “fully financed” by the Russian state. He mentioned the nation paid Wagner Rbs86bn ($1bn) from Might 2022 to Might 2023.

Harmony, Prigozhin’s catering firm which Putin mentioned owns Wagner, obtained an extra Rbs80bn in military catering contracts, he mentioned.

Chatting with a gaggle of troopers and secret service brokers within the Kremlin on Tuesday, Putin mentioned the nation’s safety forces had “basically stopped a civil conflict”.

Nevertheless, the FSB, Russia’s predominant safety service, mentioned it had closed its investigation into the weekend insurrection as a result of the contributors had “ceased the actions straight aimed toward committing the crime”, based on state newswire Ria Novosti.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, mentioned the Russian chief had determined to not prosecute Prigozhin over the nation’s first coup try in three a long time.

“There was a want to not let the worst-case situation occur,” Peskov mentioned. “There have been sure guarantees, the agreements are being realised.” Putin “at all times retains his phrase”, he added.

Whereas within the fast aftermath of the failed rebellion the Kremlin had mentioned the costs can be dropped, they’d subsequently remained in drive, in an obvious bid to place strain on Wagner to abide by the deal.

The Russian defence ministry, whose leaders have been the primary goal of Prigozhin’s ire for months as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to sputter, added that Wagner was making ready handy over weaponry to the military.

“Preparations are ongoing for the switch by Wagner PMC of heavy army tools to energetic items of the Armed Forces of Russia,” the ministry mentioned on Tuesday.

Wagner didn’t instantly affirm whether or not it could give up its weapons.

Prigozhin claimed on Monday that Wagner was beforehand planning handy over its tools to the defence ministry — till Russia’s military hit one of many group’s bases in an air strike final week. The ministry mentioned Prigozhin’s claims had been groundless and no strike was carried out.

After attending Putin’s speech on the Kremlin on Tuesday, Viktor Zolotov, head of the nationwide guard, mentioned he had mentioned giving his items heavy weaponry with the Russian president.

“We don’t have tanks and long-range heavy weaponry. We’ll combine them into our items relying on financing,” Zolotov informed reporters, based on Interfax.

Zolotov, previously Putin’s private bodyguard, mentioned Russia had identified of Prigozhin’s plans for the revolt upfront and accused western nations of colluding with the warlord.

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