No charges against Wagner mercenaries who participated in armed rebellion, Kremlin says
- Members would be offered contracts with regular Russian forces, it was alleged
- The deal was brokered by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko
Wagner mercenaries who took part in the armed uprising will not be prosecuted, the Kremlin has said.
Members of the private military group, who have been accused of rape, murder and torture worldwide, would also be offered contracts with regular Russian forces, it was alleged.
The deal was brokered by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who said he persuaded Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to recall his troops to avoid bloodshed. On Saturday, they were filmed leaving Rostov-on-Don with Prigozhin to the cheers of some locals.
Prigozhin said he ordered his troops to return to field camps in occupied areas of Ukraine. It remains to be seen what will happen to the group now and whether troops will follow it to Belarus.
Wagner – founded in 2014 – did not officially exist. But Prigozhin built it into a powerful force through interventions in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine, where it has become prominent.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said he ordered his troops to return to field camps in occupied areas of Ukraine. It remains to be seen what will happen to the group now and whether troops will follow it to Belarus
Civilians stand by military vehicles on a street of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on June 24, 2023
Vladimir Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday that troops who took part in the uprising would not be prosecuted given their “performance at the front”.
Putin had said all “volunteer units” would have to sign contracts before July 1, placing them under the control of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. This is believed to have angered Prigozhin. An ex-Wagner commander told The Guardian it was ‘unlikely’ that many would join the regular Russian army. He said, “It’s either Wagner or nothing.”
But there were reports that others had accused him of “running away.” In a video, a Wagner unit said Prigozhin was “not a man.” “Rumor has it that you ran off and lied to all the guys,” one of them said.
Lord Dannatt, an ex-Chief of the British Army General Staff, expressed concern over whether Prigozhin was being moved to lead an attack on Kiev from Belarus.