Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was shown in a video welcoming his Wagner fighters to Belarus and telling them they would for now take no further part in the Ukraine war.
In the video, the authenticity of which Reuters could not immediately verify, a man whose voice and Russian sounded like Prigozhin's is heard welcoming his men. The video was reposted by his press service on Telegram.
"Welcome lads... Welcome to Belarusian soil," Prigozhin said. The video was shot after night had fallen and it was only possible to discern what looked like Prigozhin's profile.
Prigozhin discusses his upcoming plans
"We fought honorably," said 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."
Prigozhin then tells his men to behave well towards the locals and orders them to train the Belarusian army and collect 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," Prigozhin said.
A man who sounded like Dmitry Utkin, who helped found Wagner, 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," Utkin said, before switching to English. "And welcome to hell!"