Lithuania says Prigozhin death makes ‘little difference’
The presumed death of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin does not improve regional security, Lithuania’s president said Thursday, adding that fighters from the Russian mercenary group remained in Ukraine’s neighbour Belarus.
“We really shouldn’t think that Prigozhin’s death makes us feel calmer or that it somehow improves the security situation,” Gitanas Nauseda said.
Lithuania, a Baltic country on NATO’s eastern flank, has been warning of the risks that the group may pose since its fighters moved to Belarus after a short-lived rebellion in Russia in June.
According to Russian officials, the head of the group was on board a plane that crashed on Wednesday, with all passengers killed.
But according to Nauseda, Prigozhin’s death, even if confirmed, “makes little difference” to regional security.
In similar remarks Thursday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the Wagner group was now “under direct supervision of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and his people”.
“Even more than before, or at least to the same extent as today, it will be used as a tool of provocation, blackmail… to destabilise countries bordering Russia and Belarus,” Morawiecki told reporters.
Both Vilnius and Warsaw had previously suggested that Wagner mercenaries could help facilitate illegal migration from Belarus or even enter the countries disguised as irregular migrants.
Last week, Lithuania closed two out of six its border checkpoints with Belarus.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.