The activities of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus may be significantly reorganized in the near future.
Radio Svaboda published a satellite image of the Wagner camp in Tsel village, taken by Planet Labs service on August 23, and compared it with previous images. Journalists’ data confirm our information about the reduction of tents in the field camp. But if only 1/10 part was dismantled as of August 15, then as of August 23, the situation is completely different.
According to Svaboda’s calculations, as of August 23, 101 out of 273 tents, or 1/3 of the field camp, had already been dismantled. This means that the camp could have been reduced by almost 2000 people (20 people per tent, but some tents were used for household needs). It’s reported that the dismantling of tents started supposedly on August 1, but according to our data, they started dismantling tents even before July 28.
How the camp of PMC Wagner was changing from July 23 to August 15:
- July 23-25: Usual movements of vehicles continued. Some left, some arrived, but the total number was the same. July 25-27: There were slightly fewer vehicles. The dismantling of tents started at this time: at least 10 tents were dismantled.
- July 27 – August 1: There was a slight increase in the number of construction equipment at the camp.
- August 1-9: Construction equipment continued to arrive at the camp. There was a new large parking lot in the south of camp for it. About 17 more tents were dismantled.
- August 9-15: Dismantling continued, with about 8 more tents.
In fact, the latest satellite images are the first real confirmation that some of the mercenaries may indeed have left Belarus in the first half of August. Apparently, this process is continuing now.
What can the dismantling of part of the camp near Asipovichy indicate?
Given recent events (the probable death of Prigozhin), the fate of the mercenaries and their camp in Belarus is unclear.
Both our data and information of Radio Svaboda show that despite the dismantling of some of the tents, the number of equipment in the camp in Tsel village hasn’t changed. In other words, if some of the mercenaries indeed left for Russia, then in general PMC Wagner wasn’t going to completely close its field camp. This hypothesis is confirmed by the registration of two legal entities connected with Yevgeny Prigozhin. The last of them was registered only on August 4.
We note that we still haven’t recorded special flights taking mercenaries of PMC Wagner from Belarus to Africa, there’s no information about the transfer of mercenaries and planes from the territory of Russia.
But another important thing is a clear decrease in the number of propaganda news about Wagner mercenaries sharing their “unique combat experience” with the Belarusian Armed Forces. The approach to the coverage of this topic in the propaganda media is wavy.
After the arrival of the mercenaries to Belarus and the first trainings, propaganda published many reports on this topic. However, now this topic is almost not covered at all. Example: The last mention by the Belarusian MoD about the training of PMC Wagner and the Belarusian Armed Forces is dated July 30.
At the same time, we have data that the trainings still continue.
Thus, we can state that in the near future, the activities of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus may be significantly reorganized. Right now, the following versions may be assumed:
- Complete end of mercenaries’ activities (liquidation of the field camp in Tsel village, liquidation of legal entities, withdrawal of mercenaries and equipment);
- PMC Wagner infrastructure continues to work under new management (the question is under whose and in what form);
- PMC Wagner is transferred under control of the Lukashenko regime (theoretically, it’s possible, but difficult to realize, because there may be simply no resources for the maintenance of mercenaries).
We continue to monitor the situation.