Wagner Group shut down Russian base as fifth military convoy arrives in Belarus

Wagner base closed by Russian military

The Wagner Group is to close its main military base in Russia next week, it has been claimed, as footage showed members of the mercenary group lowering both its flag and the Russian flag at the site.

The Molkino base in the southern Russian district of Krasnador, next to the Crimean peninsula, has been the home of the Wagner Group for nine years.

The private military company (PMC) allegedly shared the site with the 10th Separate Special Purpose Brigade of Russia’s GRU, which is Vladimir Putin’s foreign military intelligence agency.

It comes as footage emerging over the past six days has shown multiple Wagner convoys travelling through western Russia from Molkino to a disused military base in southern Belarus, roughly 60 minutes from the capital Minsk.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashanko said on Tuesday (July 18) that Wagner fighters were “in their camps” near the village of Tsel, just over a fortnight after Putin offered the mercenaries the option to relocate to the vassal state.

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In a video posted by pro-Wagner channels on Telegram on Tuesday, a handful of the mercenaries can be seen lowering the Russian and Wagner Group flag.

One of the fighters, who many pro-Russian commentators have noted is a “decorated” mercenary, then says that Wagner is “leaving for a new location”.

The footage was published hours before a fifth Wagner convoy in six days arrived in Belarus, according to the Belarusian Hajun Project, a monitoring group based in Minsk.

The convoy, which was escorted by Belarusian traffic police and was made up of “vans, pickups with open trunks, passenger buses, trucks, cars, a few fuel trucks and Ural trucks with trailers”, crossed into Belarus at the Dubovichka checkpoint in Russia, 184 miles from the new military base near Tsel.

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Wagner convoy filmed driving through Russian

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At least 2,000 Wagner mercenaries have arrived in Belarus in the last seven days, according to the Hajun monitoring group, as well as around 400 vehicles.

Footage was shared by pro-Wagner channels on Monday (July 17) purporting to show the third convoy driving through the Russian city of Orel, roughly a six-hour drive west of Belarus. Russian and Wagner flags could be seen waving from poles fixed to the back of several of the trucks.

A fourth convoy arrived earlier on Tuesday (July 18) at roughly the same time that the private plane of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin touched down at a nearby Belarusian military airfield.

Satellite images in the weeks between today and the Wagner mutiny on June 24 have shown the development and erection of hundreds of tents at the disused military base.

Prigozhin was also pictured (in his underpants) for the first time since his June 24 mutiny inside one of the camp’s tents on the morning of July 12, although the picture has not been verified.

On Friday, Belarusian state TV broadcast video of Wagner instructors training Belarusian territorial defence forces at a firing range in the Asipovichy region. The village of Tsel is within that region.

Lukashenko said on Tuesday that Belarus will “instantly call upon the Wagner PMC to defend the nation” if it is needed.

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