Russia’s Prigozhin: No More Fighting in Ukraine but Prepare for Africa: Video

July 19, 2023Updated: July 19, 2023

MOSCOW—Russia’s mutinous mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was shown in a video on Wednesday welcoming his fighters to Belarus, telling them they would take no further part in the Ukraine war for now but ordering them to gather their strength for Africa.

The footage, reposted by his press service on Telegram, is the first video evidence of Mr. Prigozhin’s whereabouts since the night of the mutiny.

In the video, the authenticity of which Reuters could not immediately verify, he is heard welcoming his men. The video was reposted by his press service on Telegram.

“Welcome lads … Welcome to Belarusian soil,” Mr. Prigozhin said.

“We fought honourably,” said Mr. Prigozhin. “You have done a great deal for Russia. What is going on at the front is a disgrace that we do not need to get involved in.”

The video was shot after night had fallen, though it was possible to discern what looked like Mr. Prigozhin’s profile and a group of men.

The video posted on Wednesday showed Mr. Prigozhin receiving a Wagner black flag, decorated with the motto “Blood, honour, Motherland, Courage,” from their camp in southern Russia.

Belarus said last week that Wagner fighters were instructing its soldiers at a military range southeast of Minsk.

Mr. Prigozhin says in the video that his men should behave well towards the locals and orders them to train the Belarusian army and gather their strength for a “new journey to Africa.”

“And perhaps we will return to the SMO (special military operation in Ukraine) at some point, when we are sure that we will not be forced to shame ourselves,” Mr. Prigozhin said.

Wagner was founded by Mr. Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin, a former special forces officer in Russia’s GRU military intelligence.

Wagner helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014, fought ISIS terrorist group in Syria, operated in the Central African Republic and Mali and took the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut for Russia earlier this year.

After Prigozhin’s speech, a man identified as Mr. Utkin, then spoke to the men.

“This is not the end. This is just the beginning of the biggest work in the world that will be carried out very soon,” Mr. Utkin said in Russian.