Wagner mystery as Ukraine claims only ‘a few hundred’ troops are in Belarus

The fate of the Wagner Group remains unclear as Ukraine claimed only a “few hundred” of the mercenary fighters relocated to Belarus.

Andrii Demchenko, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s border guards, told his country’s television on Sunday: “There are some groups of mercenaries on the territory of Belarus, but we are not talking about any massive or large-scale deployment … we are talking about a few hundred.”

Following the attempted coup staged by the troops and their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin on June 23, it was reported Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had brokered a deal that would see both the Group and their chief go into exile in his country.

However, days later Mr Lukashenko claimed Mr Prigozhin was in St Petersburg.

As for his troops, following the mutiny Russian President Vladimir Putin gave soldiers the choice to either sign contracts with the Ministry of Defence, go to Belarus or go home.

READ MORE: Yevgeny Prigozhin mystery as five chilling clues Wagner boss is dead or in jail

A source close to the Ukrainian intelligence suggested some members of the Group had joined the Russian army, as they claimed the official fighting force was “trying to spread out the Wagner guys among other units”.

As reported by the Guardian, they added: “This is going to affect their fighting abilities. These are professional, trained fighters who were used to fighting in particular units and combinations, and now they have to get used to something different.”

Pictures that emerged in early July suggested thousands of Wagner soldiers would head to the Osipovichi district in Belarus, where a tent camp was being built.

The site where the tents have been erected previously hosted the Belarusian army but it was argued it may accommodate up to 5,000 Wagner Group troops.

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Chances Wagner, which among its ranks count former convicts, could relocate to the area had prompted “young women and girls” living nearby to flee.

A Telegram channel called Crimean Wind claimed earlier this month: “Young women and girls living near the location of the PMC Wagner detachments in the Mogilev region began to travel to relatives in other regions of Belarus for fear of being subjected to violence by Prigozhin’s militants.”

But Ukraine’s claim regarding a lack of movement to Belarus of the mercenaries deepens the mystery surrounding their future.

The whereabouts of Mr Prigozhin have also been the subject of intense speculation.

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The warlord, who built a catering empire in Moscow before launching Wagner in 2014, hasn’t been seen in public since June 24.

Then, he was leaving Rostov, the Russian city his troops had managed to easily overtake during the attempted coup, while being hailed by locals after he had agreed to stop the mutiny.

Since the uprising, which Mr Prigozhin had dubbed a “march for justice”, he released a few audio messages, and the Kremlin said the warlord had held an in-person three-hour meeting with Vladimir Putin on June 29.

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