Wagner pauses fighter recruitment and focuses on Africa and Belarus – Prigozhin

Source: BBC

The head of the Wagner mercenary group says it will continue its activities in Africa and Belarus, but that it is not currently recruiting new fighters.

The group was deciding on its next objectives, Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an audio message published by a Wagner-linked Telegram account.

Wagner fighters have played an key role during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In June, several thousand of them took part in a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s military leadership.

In his audio message, Mr Prigozhin said most Wagner fighters were currently on leave, because “before that there was a long period of very hard work”.

He said the group was deciding on future tasks, which would “be carried out for the greatness of Russia”.

The group would stay “active in Africa and at training centres in Belarus”, he added in his message – which was published on the Grey Zone account.

He did not give further details, although Wagner is known to be active in multiple parts of Africa. Its fighters have also been in Belarus to teach territorial defence forces.

“While we are not experiencing any deficit in personnel, we do not plan to conduct new recruitment,” Mr Prigozhin said. “However, we will be extremely grateful if you keep in touch with us, and as soon as the Motherland requires a new group that will be able to protect the interests of our country, we will certainly start recruiting.”

He added that there were no restrictions placed on its fighters to transfer to “other power structures” of Russia, and “unfortunately, some” agreed to do that.

After the failed Wagner mutiny on 24 June, President Vladimir Putin invited fighters from the group who did not take part in the uprising to sign contracts with the Russian defence ministry.

In other developments, at least one person was killed on Monday morning in the Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih after Russian missile strikes, according to the interior ministry.

Meanwhile, a drone attack has been reported in Russia’s border region of Bryansk – with Governor Alexander Bogomaz saying a police station was hit.

On Saturday, Russian officials said three Ukrainian drones were downed in Moscow – the latest in a series of drone assaults on the Russian capital.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin blamed Ukraine for the attack, in which two office blocks were damaged, although there were no casualties.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that war was coming back to Russia, and that attacks on Russian territory were an “inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process” of the war between the two countries.

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