In recent weeks accusations that the Ukrainian Security Bureau (SBU) took part in the arrest of the Wagner Group in Belarus have appeared in the media. There may be some truth in these rumors. A number of signals have come from the people tied to President Vladimir Zhelensky and SBU itself.
On the 29th July, a group of 32 mercenaries from the Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner Group was detained in Minsk by the Belarusian security service, the KGB. They were accused by Belarus’ President Lukashenko of preparing to sow discontent before the elections on the 9th August. More than 200 mercenaries were reported crossing the border between Russia and Belarus by the KGB, allegedly in order to destabilize the country before elections.
However, members of Wagner Group are said to have come to Minsk for a completely different reason. Ukrainian media source claim that mercenaries came in order to fulfil a contract given to them by undercover SBU operatives who wanted to hire the Russians for supposed work in Libya or Venezuela. The plan assumed that the Wagner personnel would fall for the bait and accept the offer. It was reportedly hoped that the PMC would then disclose details about their previous operations in Donbass to support their fitness for the supposed job in Libya or wherever the SBU operatives claimed the mission was.
The second part of the plan was to insert an SBU agent on to the an aircraft chartered by Wagner Group to take the PMC operators to the supposed target country. The agent would then simulate an epilepsy episode, forcing the flight to make an emergency landing when flying over Ukraine. The SBU would then apprehend the members of Wagner Group.
If True, How Did The Plan Fail?
Unfortunately for the Ukrainians, the plan did not work. According to Censor.net, on 24th July, a meeting of the organizers took place to discuss details of the operation. Chief of the Ukrainian President’s Chancellory, Andrij Jermak, allegedly asked for the postponement the operation due to the Donbas peace-talks taking place on the 27th July. The SBU operation was rescheduled, but on the 29th July, Wagner Group fighters were captured by the Belarusian secret service.
As a war correspondent, Mitchell Prothero states, somebody, apparently alerted the Russians to the supposed SBU operation and the mercenaries were stopped from taking the flight to their destination by the Belarussian KGB.
In an official statement, the SBU denied its engagement in any operation of this sort, defending from any accusation spread. It is difficult to imagine any other response after a failed operation. However, there is not enough evidence to confirm that any actions were undertaken by the Ukrainians in order to capture Wagner’s mercenaries.
Hostilities between the Russians and Ukrainians remain open as the conflict in the Donbas region is far from being over. Someday more information may be given on the subject, but for now, speculations are the only source of knowledge on the SBU operations against Russia.