NIn a Telegram message on issues discussed today at his meeting with state security officials, Zelensky said he expected to receive reports from intelligence services and the Border Guard about the presence of Russian mercenaries in the neighboring country.

After recently leading the capture of Bakhmut, Donetsk Province, in eastern Ukraine, the Wagner group rebelled against Russian military leadership on the night of June 23-24, after accusing them of sabotaging the mercenaries’ activities and even bombing their camps.

After capturing without resistance the strategic city of Rostov, in the south of Russia, the leader of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, agreed to order his soldiers to turn around when their columns were already 200 kilometers from the province of Moscow, in an agreement obtained through the mediation of the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of the Kremlin, in exchange for an amnesty for the mutineers and the possibility of joining the regular Russian armed forces or setting up in Belarus.

Belarus borders Ukraine to the south, and also Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, which raises fears about possible actions by Wagner elements who moved there against Ukrainian territory, in full counter-offensive against the invading Russian forces, or against these three NATO and European Union countries.

On Thursday, it was reported that mercenaries from the Wagner Group started joint exercises with Belarusian troops, prompting Poland to increase its military presence at the borders.

The maneuvers fulfill a promise by Prigozhin to help with his mercenaries to protect Belarus in the event of an invasion from neighboring countries.

The Belarus Ministry of Defense said the week-long military exercises would take place at a shooting range near Brest, a city close to the border with Poland.

A video released on Wednesday shows a figure purporting to be Prigozhin telling his troops that, before deploying to Africa, they would spend some time in Belarus, providing training to help “make the Belarusian army the second strongest army in the world”.

The Russian military offensive in Ukrainian territory, launched on February 24 last year, plunged Europe into what is considered the most serious security crisis since the Second World War (1939-1945).

Also Read: “Absolute Evil”. Zelensky condemns Donetsk attack that killed children

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