There are currently up to 1,000 Wagner Group fighters in Belarus, down from about 8,000 in summer 2023, the UK Defense Ministry intelligence update reports. Their presence assists Russia’s war effort while forcing Ukraine to defend its northern border.
“The continued presence of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus almost certainly benefits Russia’s war effort by compelling Ukraine to maintain defensive positions and personnel along its northern border with Belarus,” the update adds.
Analysts see it as unlikely that Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko expands Wagner’s domestic role. More probable is their instruction of interior ministry troops without direct internal security duties.
“Wagner almost certainly continues to provide training to Belarusian military and security forces,” the review notes.
After Wagner chief Prigozhin’s failed coup in June 2022, Russia sent his mercenaries to Belarus. But their numbers dropped after his August death in a plane crash.