Over the course of this evening in Minsk local time, Belarusian dictator and illegitimately elected President Alexander Lukashenko made a number of notable comments about Wagner PMC group and about their involvement in an armed uprising led by Wagner leader and old Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin. First, he announced an abandoned military base, likely from the Soviet era, had been offered to Wagner mercenaries, saying, “There is a fence; everything is available; erect your tents.” Prigozhin arrived also today in Belarus after his coup was apparently negotiated to a peaceful agreement, mediated by Lukashenko, to bring an amicable situation between Wagner mercenaries and Russian forces. Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania have all warned of the danger that could arrive with more Wagner mercenaries entering the region and now neighboring their borders.
Russian authorities have reportedly dropped criminal case charges against Wagner PMC Group. Prigozhin earlier received security guarantees from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lukashenko also claimed he had urged Putin not to kill Prigozhin when the coup was ongoing: “I said to Putin: we could waste [Prigozhin], no problem. If not on the first try, then on the second. I told him, don’t do this,” Lukashenko said, according to state media. He said he had offered to phone Prigozhin, to which he says Putin said: “Look, Sasha [Alexander], it’s useless; he won’t even pick up the phone and doesn’t want to speak to anyone.” “Give me his number,” he went on. “[Putin] said, ‘most probably, the FSB has his number’.” Lukashenko also said that Prigozhin was in a state of euphoria because of Wagner’s success until, claiming that he said, “We want justice; they want to strangle us; we will go to Moscow,” to which he responded, “I tell him that half way, you will be crushed like a bug.”
Separately, state-owned Belarusian news agency BELTA reported that Lukashenko confirmed the arrival of Russian nuclear weapons to be stationed and deployed in Belarus for determent purposes:
MINSK, 27 June (BelTA) – “Belarus will work out an algorithm on how to use tactical nuclear weapons in response to external aggression. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement after the ceremony held on 27 June to present shoulder boards to high-ranking officers. Representatives of mass media and political analysts took part in the ceremony, BelTA has learned.
While asking Aleksandr Lukashenko a question, the political analyst Aleksandr Shpakovsky remarked that representatives of the expert and analyst community of Western countries are curious about the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. They are convinced that Belarus will not have the technical capability to use these nuclear weapons if the country is attacked. They are convinced that Russia will retain control of the weapons and only Russia will be able to make these decisions. Aleksandr Shpakovsky asked Aleksandr Lukashenko to clarify the matter and explain how the tactical nuclear weapons will be used if Belarus is attacked.
The head of state responded by saying: “If we take a deeper look at it, listen, do I need scrap in some storage facility? Well, these tactical weapons could be left in Russia. If necessary, we could transport them for another 500km for firing. Or an aircraft could be launched from Russia. And so on and so forth.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed he had insisted on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus to deter any attacks. “No one has ever fought against a nuclear power. The key task right now… [Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, First Deputy Defense Minister of Belarus Viktor] Gulevich is present here, by the way. He, the minister, and the KGB chairman have been instructed to determine the algorithm for using these weapons. The key is our ability to use it at time of need when we are attacked. Which means when the Union State [of Belarus and Russia] is attacked as people in Russia have already learned how to say,” the president said.
“But it is not the point. Let’s assume (it is just an assumption) that we can use it upon Russia’s authorization. These are idle speculations: we are being used and the rest. They are nonsense. It cannot be like that. These are our weapons and we will use them [when it is necessary],” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. “I don’t need scrap here. And it is simply ridiculous to bring weapons and deploy them. For what? For storage purposes? Russians have excellent storage facilities. General [Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor] Khrenin and his people have been there and have seen these storage facilities. But ours are better. Specialists came and compared them to an operating room!” the president added. The president had mentioned earlier during the meeting that a considerable part of the Russian nuclear weapons, which are supposed to be deployed in Belarus, is already in the country’s territory. Both Russians and Belarusians guard them.”