MINSK, August 1. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that he plans to expedite the establishment of a contracted army using PMC Wagner fighters billeted in Belarus as the backbone of these forces.
"It was my initiative. I want these guys to stay in our country’s armed forces. And, relying on them, to take more active steps to establish a contracted army," the BelTA news agency quoted him as saying.
At the same time, the Belarusian leader stressed that his country is not going to wage war. "We don’t want any wars and I think that everything will be alright. If an enemy sees that we are able to retaliate and that they will suffer irrecoverable losses which will be unacceptable for them, they will never attack," he said.
Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin said earlier that contracted soldiers account for some 60% of the Belarusian army. A two-year contract can be signed by either those who never served in the army or those taken in for compulsory military service.
According to earlier reports, the Belarusian defense ministry and the command of the Wagner Group elaborated a plan of cooperation for the near future. Wagner instructors and units are already involved in training missions. The Belarusian side has not disclosed how many Wagner fighters are staying on its territory.