Fact Check: Wagner Chief Did NOT Say His Mercenaries Would Carry Out Combat Operations On Behalf Of Russia From Belarus Territory

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  • Автор: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: Wagner Chief Did NOT Say His Mercenaries Would Carry Out Combat Operations On Behalf Of Russia From Belarus Territory Never Said

Did the Wagner Group chief and leader of the failed mutiny against the Kremlin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, state that Wagner group fighters would carry out combat operations on behalf of Russia, including those possibly aimed at Poland, from Belarus territory? No, that's not true: In a July 19 video release, Prigozhin is heard addressing his mercenaries in Belarus, saying they will help train the Belarusian army and hinting that his fighters would possibly return to the front lines in Ukraine "when they are sure that they won't be forced to put themselves and their experience to shame."

On July 28, 2023, the claim appeared in a video posted on the TikTok account @chpnzz (archived here).

The graphic overlay on the video, in Russian, says:

Will Wagner take Kyiv or terrify the Poles? This week, Prigozhin stated that musicians would fight for Belarus or carry out combat tasks as part of a special military operation from Belarusian territory. Vladimir Putin, in turn, claimed that Poland has historically Russian lands within its borders. Do you understand where it's all heading? The musicians will continue their involvement in the special military operation under Prigozhin's leadership and help Russia win this war.

(The text has been translated into English from Russian by Lead Stories staff).

Note: The Wagner mercenaries are often referred to as "musicians."

Below is how the post appeared on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-08-02 at 11.26.20.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Aug 2 10:27:21 2023 UTC)

On July 19, Telegram channels "Razgruzka Vagnera" and "Orkestr Vagnera," associated with the Wagner group, published a video in which Prigozhin appears to be addressing the mercenaries who have arrived in Belarus. In the video he states that the Wagner Group will make the Belarusian army the second army in the world, and "if necessary intervene on their behalf in case it is required" and hints that his fighters would "continue to prepare" and possibly return to the front lines in Ukraine "when they are sure that they won't be forced to put themselves and their experience to shame."

However, Prigozhin did not say that Wagner group fighters would carry out combat operations as part of Russia's special military operation from the territory of Belarus. In this video, he strongly criticized the current conduct of the war and said: "What is currently happening on the front line is a disgrace that we don't want to have any part in, and we need to wait until we can show our mettle in full." And at no time did he mention the suggestion of military operations against NATO member and neighboring country Poland.

A search for the phrase "Prigozhin said Wagner to carry out Russia's combat tasks from Belarus" conducted on July 31, 2023, using Google News' index of thousands of credible news sites, did not reveal any factual reports on this claim either. Additionally, no such information was found on Prigozhin's press service's Telegram channel, where his audio recordings and information about Wagner are published. If it were the case, it would be news of significant importance reported by international media.

On July 20, 2023, the Belarusian defense ministry said that Wagner Group mercenaries started to train Belarusian special forces at a military range just a few miles from the border with NATO-member Poland.

On July 21, 2023, while meeting with permanent members of the Russia's Security Council, President Putin said that the western part of Poland was a gift from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to the country and he also accused NATO member Poland of having territorial ambitions in the former Soviet Union, saying any aggression against Russia's neighbor and close ally Belarus would be considered an attack on Russia.

On August 1, 2023, Poland's government reported that two Belarusian helicopters violated Poland's airspace. In response to the incident, Warsaw authorities announced plans to bolster Poland's military presence along the border; and lodged a protest by summoning Belarus' highest-ranking diplomat in Warsaw.


  Lead Stories Staff

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

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