The Wagner Group may be supplanting the Russian military as the Belarusian military’s key training partner. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on July 30 that Wagner personnel conducted company-level training with unspecified elements of multiple Belarusian mechanized brigades. The training included tactical maneuver for dismounted infantry and focused on force concealment from enemy UAVs and coordination between companies, platoons, and squads. The training also reportedly featured Belarusian infantry conducting a combined arms assault with tank and artillery support. The Wagner Group’s new role in Belarusian company-level training is notable. The Belarusian military typically conducts such exercises with Russian trainers and relies on Russian planners for any multi-brigade exercises, which ISW has not yet observed Wagner Group participating in. ISW previously observed Wagner personnel training with a Belarusian airborne brigade that historically trains with the Russian 76th Airborne (VDV) Division and forecasted that the Wagner Group may seek to supplant legacy Russian–Belarusian unit relationships.
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely succeeded in recruiting an unknown number of Wagner personnel following Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed rebellion, though Prigozhin reportedly ordered remaining Wagner fighters to assemble in Belarus by August 5. Prigozhin announced on July 30 that “unfortunately a few [Wagner personnel] agreed to transfer from the Wagner Group” and joined other unspecified Russian security services — likely the Russian MoD). Prigozhin thanked former Wagner personnel for their service, stated that neither he nor Wagner’s Council of Commanders banned Wagner personnel from joining different Russian “security structures,” and expressed hope that the departed Wagner members would “keep in touch” so that they can rejoin Wagner should there ever arrive a time when the Wagner Group must reform a force. Prigozhin also reiterated known details about how the Wagner Group will continue to train Belarusian forces and operate in Africa. The Ukrainian Resistance Center also noted on July 31 that Prigozhin ordered all Wagner personnel currently on rest and recuperation to arrive at Wagner’s field camps in Belarus no later than August 5 to attend unspecified events that Prigozhin will personally lead on August 5. Prigozhin stated that most Wagner fighters are on “vacation” as of July 30.
Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 31. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued attacking northwest and southwest of Bakhmut, in the western Donetsk–eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that over the past week, Ukrainian forces liberated an additional 2 square kilometers of territory in the Bakhmut area and 12.6 square kilometers in the Berdyansk (western Donetsk–eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area) and Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) directions.
- The Wagner Group may be supplanting the Russian military as the Belarusian military’s key training partner.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely succeeded in recruiting an unknown number of Wagner personnel following Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed rebellion, though Prigozhin ordered remaining Wagner fighters to assemble in Belarus by August 5.
- Prigozhin stated that the Wagner Group stopped recruiting in Russia and claimed that the Wagner Group does not need to recruit more personnel and has sufficient reserves.
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made largely boilerplate comments framing the Russian state as adequately supporting long-term force-generation efforts and meeting Russian weapons demand through domestic production and international cooperation.
- Imagery posted on July 30 and 31 visually confirms damage to the Chonhar Bridge following a Ukrainian strike on July 29.
- Kremlin-appointed Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova confirmed on July 31 that Russia has transferred 4.8 million Ukrainians, including over 700,000 children, to the Russian Federation since the beginning of the war, very likely violating the Fourth Geneva Convention.
- Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 31.
- Iran and Belarus are deepening bilateral cooperation over the backdrop of their mutual support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
- Ukrainian Presidential Administration Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak stated on July 30 that Kyiv and Washington will begin consultations on providing Ukraine “security guarantees” as soon as the week of August 6 – 13.
- Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna and Avdiivka-Donetsk City lines and made claimed gains in Luhansk Oblast.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in western Donetsk and western Zaporizhia oblasts.
- Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks in western Donetsk and western Zaporizhia oblasts.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified a law on July 31 increasing the fine for mobilized personnel’s or conscripts’ failure to arrive at a military registration office after being summoned.