The coal mine at Yuvileine (Russian forces logistics hub) struck by Ukrainian forces
A Putin loyalist has claimed that the Kremlin may use Wagner forces to seize control of a strategic strip of land between Poland and Lithuania, in a move that could trigger World War 3. The Russian parliamentarian said the militia units could take the land “in a matter of hours” from their bases in Belarus. Over the weekend a large convoy of Wagner vehicles was spotted entering Belarus for the first time since the end of the mutiny in June.
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Under a truce negotiated by Aleksandr Lukashenko, Wagner troops were to relocate to Belarus for the foreseeable future.
The Suwałki Corridor is a 60 to 100 kilometre, ill-defined strip of land officially situated along the Polish-Lithuanian border, which is of vital strategic importance to both NATO and Russia.
For the West, it is the only land link to the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, who became NATO members in 2004 following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
For the Kremlin, the strip of land is important because it would provide them with direct overland access to the enclave of Kaliningrad, home to Russia’s Baltic fleet.
Andrey Kartapolov, a Colonel General and former deputy Defence Minister, told the state TV channel Russia 1 that Putin has sent Wagner units to Belarus for a very specific strategic reason.
“We’ve talked already about the clever move of our Supreme Commander-in-Chief,” he said.
“It is clear that Wagner PMC went to Belarus to train the Belarusian Armed Forces. In fact not only that.
“There is such a thing as the Suwałki Corridor. Should anything happen we need this Suwałki Corridor very much.
“A strike force is ready to take this small corridor in a matter of hours. And here again we are ahead of them.”
The Suwałki Corridor has been described by security experts as NATO’s “Achilles heel” and even as the “most dangerous place on earth”, due to its vulnerability to attack by Russia.
Any attempt by Moscow to annex the land corridor would almost certainly trigger NATO’s Article 5, under which an attack on one member state “in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”
Article 5 has been formally invoked just once – in support of the United States following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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Both Polish and Ukrainian authorities confirmed the arrival of Wagner fighters in Belarus over the weekend.
The Belarusians also said Wagner military trainers had arrived to help Lukashenko’s army prepare for war.
However, Kyiv says the number of mercenaries in Belarus still remains relatively low.
Andrii Demchenko, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s border guards, told Ukrainian television on Sunday: “There are some groups of mercenaries on the territory of Belarus, but we are not talking about any massive or large-scale deployment.
“We are talking about a few hundred.”
Meanwhile, the mystery over the whereabouts of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s boss, continues.
In recent, days an unflattering photo of the warlord, showing him in his underwear and sitting in a large tent on an unmade bed, have flooded social media channels.
However data from the image suggests it was taken on June 12, before Prigozhin launched his short-lived rebellion.
Since the mutiny, the Kremlin has unleashed a vicious smear campaign against the militia chief.
In the latest attempt to discredit the former Kremlin favourite, Putin told the newspaper Kommersant that Prigozhin was not the real commander of the militia, naming Andrei Troshev as its de-facto leader.
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