The contingent of Wagnerites already constitutes 42% of the Belarusian troops they are purportedly supposed to be training. This means that the mercenaries will in reality be tasked with other military tasks.
The Belarusian MoD has stated that Wagner PMC fighters will train Belarusian troops, but the concentration of forces in Belarus suggests otherwise, writes the Ukrainian portal Defense Express.
Starting from 11 July, at least 13 Wagner columns with troops and equipment have arrived in Belarus, where they were allowed to go to join their financier Yevgeny Prigozhin following an unsuccessful mutiny in Russia, according to the monitoring project Hajun.
As of 24 July, the project reported at least 3,500 Wagnerites present in Belarus; however, the number is higher now. A spokesman for Ukraine’s border guard service said on 29 July that now there are at least 5,000 mercenaries there.
The statistics betray Wagner’s officially proclaimed goal in Belarus — to train the Belarusian Army, Defense Express writes. The total size of the Belarusian army is around 48,000 troops, including 11,700 ground troops. This implies that the contingent of Wagnerites in Belarus already constitutes 42% of the troops they are purportedly supposed to be training — a disproportionally large figure considering their declared mission. Furthermore, Wagner’s numbers in Belarus could rise to 10,000, Babel reports, citing Telegram channels.
This means, Defense Express writes, that the mercenary base in Belarus could serve as a distribution point to African countries, for cross-border raids into Ukraine (a scenario that the country is actively preparing for), or for wreaking chaos in neighboring Poland. Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka hinted at the latter option in a statement suggesting that the Wagnerites would like to make an “excursion” to Poland’s Warsaw and Rzeszów.