Russian President Vladimir Putin called the detention of Wagner militants in Belarus a joint operation of Ukrainian and American special services.
"Now it is obvious. This is an action of special services. People were unknowingly moved to the territory of Belarus... They were simply dragged into the territory of Belarus and presented as a possible strike force for swaying the situation during the election campaign. Which was completely untrue. People were on their way to work in a third country. They were simply lured there, dragged across the border," Putin said in an interview with Rossiya 24 channel.
At the same time, according to Putin, Russian border guards did not allow them to cross the border. "They couldn't enter. They were actually brought [into Belarus] using forged documents. This is an operation of Ukrainian special services together with the American ones. Now it is known for sure. Some participants or observers in this process are well informed people. They do not even hide it," he said.
On August 18, the Ukrainian media wrote that the Ukrainian Presidential Administration leaked the information about the operation of the Ukrainian special services to detain a group of mercenaries of Russia private military company the Wagner Group.
The head of the Ukrainian President’s Administration said that this story is a disinformation campaign.
The head of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Intelligence Directorate, Kirill Budanov, said that the trip of the Wagner mercenaries to Belarus, during which they were detained, is an operation of the Russian special services.
On July 29, 33 Russians, allegedly members of the Russian Private Military Company the Wagner Group, were detained near Minsk. Belarusian media reported that the country's law enforcement agencies were informed about the arrival of more than 200 militants in Belarus "to destabilize the situation during the election campaign." The Russians first stayed in one of the hotels in Minsk, and then moved to a resort near Minsk.