The mercenary group is in the process of relocating to Belarus after its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin called off an attempted mutiny against the Russian Defense Ministry last month.
Since their arrival in the country, Wagner’s mercenaries have been housed in camps and are training Belarusian forces.
But Ukraine claims that Wagner is recruiting new fighters in Belarus in an attempt to swell its ranks in preparation for a future war, potentially on NATO territory.
Newly recruited mercenaries must agree to “participate in hostilities on the territory of the neighboring countries of Belarus, in particular Poland and Lithuania,” according to the center.
A Wagner-linked attack on NATO territory would constitute grounds for the security alliance to enter an armed conflict.
At least 5,000 of Wagner’s soldiers have withdrawn to Belarus, where they are supposed to train the army of autocrat Alexander Lukashenko.
Lithuania has declared Wagner a terrorist organization, and Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak promised on July 18 to reinforce its border with two additional military brigades due to the presence of the Wagner Group.
The Polish-Lithuanian border has been described as NATO’s “weakest link”.
The Suwalki corridor is a 100 km strip of enormous strategic importance for NATO, the EU and Russia.
For the West, it is the only land link with the three former Soviet Baltic republics – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – considered vulnerable to Putin if the current east-west tension worsens.
For Russia, control of the corridor would mean a land link between the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, the main base for Putin’s Baltic Fleet, and Belarus, a staunch ally of the Kremlin.
Russian Reserve Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov, also an MP and chairman of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, stated earlier this month that Wagner’s forces could be deployed here.
If something happens, we need this corridor from Suwalki, Kartapolov said.
“A strike force [based on the Wagner forces in Belarus] is prepared to take this corridor in a matter of hours.”
His “shock fist” plan would affect a sparsely populated territory that has been called NATO’s “Achilles heel.”
Because it could be the first point of contact in World War III, the corridor has been called “the most dangerous place on Earth.”
A Russian maneuver in this area with the state support of Wagner would probably activate NATO clause 5, pitting the Alliance against Russia.
However, Poland is rapidly rearming due to the threat from Moscow, and Germany is to permanently deploy 4,000 troops to Lithuania as NATO strengthens its presence in the Baltics.
Prigozhin, 62, was seen with a man believed to be a member of the Central African Republic delegation at the summit, where a number of African leaders are meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Prigozhin’s presence at a Russian summit of African leaders and his meeting with a delegate from the Central African Republic would make sense, given the wide operational reach of the Wagner group in numerous African countries, such as the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Sudan, Mozambique and Burkina Faso.
They are also known to operate in Niger, where a coup by the country’s presidential guard took place on Wednesday.
His objectives differ in each region, but Wagner’s operations almost invariably involve bolstering the military forces of the Kremlin’s preferred regimes in Africa by supplying weapons and training and providing additional security services.
Russia gains access to natural resources, investment opportunities, and geopolitical influence in exchange.