“I suggested to Putin not to rush. ‘Come on,’ I said, ‘Let’s talk with Prigozhin, with his commanders.’ To which he told me: ‘Listen, Sasha, it’s useless. He doesn’t even pick up the phone, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone’.”
Putin used the same Russian verb in 1999 about Chechen militants, vowing to “wipe them out in the shithouse”, remarks that became a widely quoted emblem of his severe persona.
There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin on Lukashenko’s remarks, which give a rare insight into the conversations inside the Kremlin as Russia, according to Putin’s own account, teetered towards turmoil not seen for decades.
Lukashenko, both an old acquaintance of Prigozhin and close ally of Putin, said that he had advised the Russian president to think “beyond our own noses” and that Prigozhin’s elimination could lead to a widespread revolt by his fighters.
The Belarusian leader also said that his own army could benefit from the experience of Wagner troops who, according to a deal struck with the Kremlin, are now free to move to Belarus.