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A deal to end the rebellion over the weekend, for which Lukashenko has been credited with mediating, gave Prigozhin and his fighters the option of exile in Belarus after they stopped their march on Moscow.
After leaving the southern Russian city of Rostov on Saturday, Prigozhin’s exact whereabouts became unclear in the days that followed, though he did deliver an audio message on Monday that defended Wagner’s revolt, which appears to center on a standoff with Russia’s military leadership and their handling of the war in Ukraine.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) said reports claimed that Prigozhin was in a Minsk hotel without any windows, underscoring a possible fear of being defenestrated.
John Kirby, the coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, told reporters on Monday that he did not know where Prigozhin was located.
In addition to declaring Prigozhin’s arrival in Belarus, Lukashenko reportedly said at least some Wagner members are invited to stay at an “abandoned” base in his country and touted their “invaluable” experience. The Belarusian leader also claimed he talked Russian President Vladimir Putin out of escalating the conflict.
Some leaders in the region voiced concerns about Wagner’s presence in Belarus.
“If Wagner deploys its serial killers in Belarus, all neighboring countries face even bigger danger of instability,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.
Although Russia dropped criminal mutiny charges against Wagner members and said they would hand over military equipment, Putin said in a speech on Monday that the organizers of the rebellion would be “brought to justice.”
Putin also gave Wagner members the options of entering a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense or other law enforcement agencies, going home to their family and friends, or leaving for Belarus.