VILNIUS - Authoritarian Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko's regime will be responsible for any actions by the Wagner mercenary group in Belarus, aimed at raising tensions in the region, an advisor to Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.
"This is not yet the case, I stress, in Belarus, but if it were to happen, we will certainly be ready. And my message is that we will inevitably, whether it's under control or not, with or without someone's knowledge, we will link directly any actions with the Belarusian regime because they have provider shelter or are going to provide shelter to such a criminal and war criminal element," presidential adviser on national security issues Kestutis Budrys told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Tuesday.
Following Wagner's march to Moscow last weekend, the Kremlin announced that Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin would be sent to Belarus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also said on Monday that Wagner troops would also be allowed to move to Belarus. Prigozhin himself stated that Lukashenko had suggested ways for Wagner to continue its operations.
"Having him close to the border, we will have to pay more attention both to the border and to what is happening in Belarus and send a very clear message about where our tolerance limits are. It will be zero," Budrys said.
Prigozhin's forces are the most dangerous because of their ability to operate in the "grey zone" through sabotage and infiltration operations, something Wagner has repeatedly demonstrated in Africa, Syria and the United States, the advisor said.
"Clearly, this kind of uncontrolled element is a risk factor and we will have to really adapt and it's not up to the Lukashenko regime to control what is going to happen on his doorstep," Budrys said.
Mercenaries, he said, create an opportunity to "deny state involvement" by acting in a hybrid way and in an uncontrolled way, i.e., without following any rules.
As a result, if they were spotted, for example, in the territory of another country, the response would be different from that to an army incursion, he said.