‘Wagner is victim of its own brand name’: How much of a threat does mercenary group pose in Belarus?

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War in Ukraine


The newfound presence of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus, exiled from Russia after their mutinous march on Moscow, has fuelled fresh anxieties in Ukraine and on Nato’s eastern flank. ... Citing reports that funding disputes have already seen some mercenaries bussed back to Russia, Mr [Mark] Galeotti said Ukraine has “ample forces to stop 2,000 guys with guns wandering over” a border “carefully watched” due to its proximity to Kyiv, most likely including by Nato. While he believes Wagner would not pose much of a direct threat even if better equipped, Nick Reynolds, the Royal United Services Institute’s research fellow for land warfare, said the possibility of disruption “can’t be discounted”. Wagner’s presence – along with that of Belarusian and Russian forces – means Ukraine does have to devote some troops to guard the border, which already comes under “a lot of artillery and drone strikes”, albeit not as heavily as troops along front lines in the Donbas and further south, he said.