Wagner leader Evgeny Prigozhin was left out in the cold

Minsk, Belarus

By the way, if you learned one thing from Thursday’s press conference Belarusian President Alexander LukashenkoIt was the Wagner leader Evgeny PrigogineHe has not been seen in public since June 24 and appears to be in critical condition.

Lukashenko drove a wedge between himself and Prigozhin Wagner The boss said that neither Prigozhin nor his mercenaries were in Belarus, and it was unclear if they would ever visit.

“He is in St. Petersburg. Or he may be traveling to Moscow or somewhere else this morning,” Lukashenko said in response to a question from CNN. “But he is not on the territory of Belarus now.”

When Lukashenko reportedly struck a deal to end Prigozhin’s insurgency in Russia last month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the deal came about because Prigozhin and Lukashenko have known each other personally for about 20 years. .”

But on Thursday, Lukashenko said it was Putin, Prigozhin’s longtime friend, who “knows him better than I do, who has known him for about 30 years.”

Neither leader was now more interested in being Prigozhin’s best friend.

One of the final stages in Prigozhin’s long-standing tensions with the Russian Ministry of Defense was Wagner’s insistence that mercenaries sign contracts with the Russian government; Prigogine refused.

But on Thursday, Lukashenko insisted that Wagner come to Belarus, where its mercenaries would sign documents with the Belarusian government.

“If they decide to stay in Belarus, we will make an agreement with them,” he said.

Just as we learned that Prigozhin was in Russia and not Belarus, Russian state media released images of a police raid on Prigozhin’s office and apartment in St. Petersburg. The footage – described as “scandalous” by the presenters – described hoardings of gold, cash and wigs, weapons and passports belonging to Prigogine under various aliases.

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Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Evgeny Prigozhin left Russian military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don for the last time on June 24.

Lukashenko’s closeness with Russian President Vladimir Putin has led many to characterize him as a slave state, doubling down on his friendship with Putin.

Despite the tension at times, “we have communication channels, we can chat in minutes and meet face-to-face in hours. We are in the same boat. If we fight and put a hole in this boat, we will both sink.

In fact, he said, the two countries are joined at the hip when it comes to newly stationed Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus.

“It is designed for defensive purposes only,” he said. If Russia were to use nuclear weapons, “I’m sure it would consult with its closest ally.”

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