Wagner forces are leaving Russia’s southern Voronezh region, according to the local governor, after the group halted a dramatic rebellion against Kremlin.
“The movement of Wagner units through the Voronezh region is ending,” Voronezh governor Alexander Gusev said.
“It is running normally and without incidents,” Gusev added, saying travel restrictions imposed during Saturday’s operation against the mutiny will be lifted once “the situation is finally resolved”.
Chaos in Russia works to Kyiv’s advantage, Ukraine’s foreign minister says, after Yevgeny Prigozhin, a founder of the Wagner army, said he was halting his “march for justice” on Moscow after a deal with Kremlin.
“Any chaos behind the enemy lines works in our interests,” the state-run Ukrinform news agency quoted Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba as saying.
Kuleba held a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the events and Kyiv’s counteroffensive efforts on Saturday.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has led his mercenary fighters out of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, after reaching a deal to end Saturday’s short-lived armed rebellion.
Photos showed Prigozhin smiling and reaching out to grab supporters’ hands as he was driven out of the city, while his soldiers got into trucks to move back to their bases. Under a deal brokered by Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin agreed to pull off the rebellion and go into exile.
The Kremlin said that criminal charges against the Wagner chief would be dropped and his troops would not be prosecuted either. Prigozhin said he made the decision when his troops were within 200km (124 miles) of Moscow to avoid bloodshed.
Beefed-up NATO if Prigozhin in Belarus
Lithuania’s president has warned that if Belarus is to host Prigozhin, then NATO will need to strengthen its eastern flank.
The head of state, whose Baltic country neighbours both Belarus and Russia and will host next month’s NATO summit, spoke after a state security council meeting to discuss Wagner’s aborted revolt against the Kremlin.
After Prigozhin called off his troops’ advance on Saturday, Moscow said the Wagner chief would leave Russia for Belarus and would not face charges.
“If Prigozhin or part of the Wagner group ends up in Belarus with unclear plans and unclear intentions, it will only mean that we need to further strengthen the security of our eastern borders,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told reporters.
“I am not only talking about Lithuania here, but without a doubt the whole of NATO,” he said.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES