Latvian Ministry of Defence says Wagner Group’s presence in Belarus presents no direct threats

The movements of PMC Wagner Group within the Republic of Belarus does not present any direct threats to the Republic of Latvia, according to Ministry of Defence.
The ministry stresses that Latvia and its allies are carefully observing the presence of Russian PMC Wagner Group in Belarus. Intelligence information about this group’s movement, owned equipment and arms.
“This situation does not present any direct threats to Latvia.
Latvian army and other national defence-related institutions have been on high alert ever since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine,” the ministry’s statement mentions.
“Latvia’s army provides assistance to the State Border Guard. If need be, the armed forces are prepared to expand this support. This includes sending rapid response units to the border.”
According to a news report presented on Sunday, the 23rd of July, PMC Wagner Group is stationed in Belarus approximately 200 km away from Latvia’s border.

Currently the situation on the Latvian-Belarusian border is without change. There is no increase of military threats observed, the ministry reports.

Belarusian website Belarusski Hajun previously reported that the tenth caravan carrying Wagner fighters arrived in the country on Sunday, the 23rd of July. Arriving vehicles had changed their usual route – unlike the last one, this time mercenaries changed course to Mogilev near Cherikovo and then continued on their way to Bobruysk. There were at least ten vehicles this time.

Ukrainian State Border Guard’s estimates indicate that approximately 5 000 Wagner mercenaries have already arrived in Belarus.

President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko told his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin during their meeting in St. Petersburg that Wagner mercenaries want to go on an “excursion” to Poland.
According to Lukashenko, Wagner mercenaries want to “visit” Poland because the country helps supply Ukraine with arms.
Director of Riga-based NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence Jānis Sārts commented after these reports that Putin is preparing an escalation of the situation through two of his mediators – Lukashenko and Wagner. According to Sārts, Putin does this to make sure the response isn’t aimed at Moscow.
It is unlikely there is a risk of a military attack. The most likely scenario is some diversion or sabotage. The logical target would be the arms supplies intended for Ukraine, said Sārts.

“However, if need be there could be sabotage against Lithuania and Latvia. We have to be ready.”

The future of PMC Wagner Group was unclear for several weeks after its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny. The mutiny was quelled on the 24th of June, when Prigozhin and his mercenaries were offered asylum in Belarus.
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