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Lukashenko confirms the arrival of the Wagner leader in Belarus and urged Putin not to kill him

The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko confirmed Tuesday that leader of Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin has arrived in Belarus three days after the armed uprising led against Russia’s defense ministry, which has grabbed world headlines.

“Yes, today is in Belarus,” Lukashenko told the state-run Belta news agency. “We will help you if you want to stay with us for a while at [Wagner’s] expenses, of course,” the Belarusian leader said. Ironically, the words came on the same day that President Putin revealed in a speech that the Russian government paid the Wagner Group to $1 billion in contracts during the last year of conflict in Ukraine.

Image: SN7756/Jetphotos

“The maintenance of the entire Wagner group was fully provided by the state,” Putin said, while thanking the soldiers and security services for their part in “stopping the civil war.”

The Minsk government has also dismissed rumors that Wagner might play a role in protecting Russian tactical nuclear weapons now stationed on Belarusian soil.

And yet, Lukashenko still said of Wagner in Tuesday’s remarks: “But I could use a unit like that in the army,” and revealed that he instructed his defense minister to explore such a possibility as assistance to the armed forces.

It was Lukashenko who mediated a ceasefire agreement between the Russian army and Wagner on Saturday. He said he personally urged Putin not to kill Prigozhin in the middle of the uprising.

“I told Putin: we could waste (Prigozhin), no problem. If not on the first try, then on the second. I told him: don’t do that.” Lukashenko said.

As for Putin, he said he will keep his word by pardoning Prigozhin and his mercenaries, and allow the safe departure of Wagner’s boss to Belarus, although he also calls them traitors.

Prigozhin is widely believed to have he left Russia on his private jetan Embraer Legacy 600. Regional media reported than “An Embraer Legacy 600, which investigative journalists have previously done linked to the Russian businessman: He landed southwest of the Belarusian capital of Minsk at 07:37 local time on Tuesday, flight tracking data showed.”

Putin also teased Tuesday the possibility of future corruption charges against Wagner, or possible members of the defense ministry. But so far the expected shake-up from the top has not materialized, and Defense Ministry Shoigu has been present at all the important events of the last few days.



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