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Belarus claims Wagner mercenaries are helping to train its defence forces

In a photo released by the Belaurus Defence Ministry, a member of the Wagner mercenary group shows his skills to Belarusian soldiers during training. Friday, July 14, 2023
In a photo released by the Belaurus Defence Ministry, a member of the Wagner mercenary group shows his skills to Belarusian soldiers during training. Friday, July 14, 2023 Copyright AP/Belarusian Defense Ministry via VoenTV
Copyright AP/Belarusian Defense Ministry via VoenTV
By Mark Armstrong with AP
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The government in Belarus claims Wagner fighters are training its defence forces as more of the mercenaries are reported to have moved to the country as part of the deal brokered by President Lukashenko

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More mercenaries from Russia's Wagner mercenary group are said to have rolled into Belarus as part of the deal that ended their mutiny.

The state-controlled TV channel, Voen TV, showed footage of the Wagner fighters wearing black masks while training Belarusian soldiers. 

The video showed mercenaries instructing Belarusian soldiers how to shoot and provide medical assistance.

The film has not been independently verified by journalists. 

Wagner fighters "acted as instructors in a number of military disciplines,” the Ministry of Defence announced on Telegram.

It noted that the training was taking place near the town of Asipovichy, about 90km (56 miles) south of the capital, Minsk, where a camp offered to Wagner is located.

The ministry did not report the number of Russian mercenaries that arrived in Belarus.

There are reports of over 100 vehicles carrying Russian flags and Wagner insignia heading towards the camp. 

President Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered a deal that ended last month's rebellion launched by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, has said that his country's military could benefit from the mercenaries' combat experience.

In Russia, Wagner's main base is closing down according to a report on a Telegram channel linked to the paramilitary group.

A post showed a video of flags being lowered at the base, which is located in Russia’s Krasnodar region. “The base in Molkino is ceasing to exist" was the message. and the group is leaving for new deployment sites, it went on to say. 

Prigozhin ordered his mercenaries back to their camps after striking a deal to end the rebellion in exchange for an amnesty for him and his men, and permission to move to Belarus.

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