Poland-Belarus: Tensions high on NATO border with Belarus as Wagner troops move closer


Poland will deploy more troops at the border with Belarus after it accused Minsk of violating its airspace, raising tensions between the NATO member and a key Kremlin ally in an increasingly volatile security landscape In Europe.

Warsaw said two Belarusian helicopters allegedly violated Polish airspace during training exercises on Tuesday, which the Belarusian Defense Ministry strongly denied and dismissed as “far-fetched”.

This came amid increased activity near a thin strip of land between Poland and Lithuania, known as the Suwalki Gap, or corridor, which troops from the Russian mercenary group Wagner are moving towards in an apparent bid to increase pressure on NATO and EU members.

The Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal to cover Wagner’s failed rebellion against Moscow, after which thousands of mercenaries were allegedly sent to Belarus.

Ministry of Defense of Belarus/Handout/AP/File

Belarusian soldiers and Wagner troops take part in joint training exercises near the border city of Brest, Belarus, on July 20, 2023, amid heightened border tensions between Warsaw and Minsk.

Minsk had informed Warsaw of the exercise, but a border crossing took place in the eastern Bialowieza region at a “very low altitude, which makes detection by radar systems difficult,” the Polish Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak subsequently ordered more troops and attack helicopters to be deployed along the border, the ministry added.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry said, “there were no violations of the airspace by Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters.”

“The accusations of violating Poland’s border by Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters of the Belarusian Air Force and Air Defense Forces are far-fetched and were made by the Polish military-political leadership to justify the build-up of forces and means close to the Belarusian border ,” the ministry said on Telegram.

Poland informed NATO of the incident, which reportedly took place south of the Suwalki Gorge, a 60-mile line strategically important to NATO, the EU, Russia and Belarus.

The border region connects the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad with Belarus, and it is the only land link between the Baltic states and the rest of the EU.

Last week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Wagner mercenaries were heading for the Suwalki corridor via Grodno, a city in western Belarus, in a situation that is “becoming even more dangerous” as Russian-allied forces try to increase their presence near the NATO border.

On Tuesday, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński told local radio station RMF.FM that “unfortunately” there could be more provocations from Belarusian and Russian forces in the future.

Barbara Yoxon, a lecturer in international politics at Lancaster University in northern England, said Warsaw “sees Belarus as complicit in the current European security crisis.”

Moscow used Belarusian territory to facilitate its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, strengthening ties between Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

“Deploying troops to the Suwalki Gorge would provide a direct link between Russia and Kaliningrad, making it a very important target for Putin’s regime,” Yoxon told CNN.

“By deploying troops from both the west (Kaliningrad) and the east (Belarus), Russia would be able to effectively cut off the Baltic states from its NATO allies in Central and Western Europe. This would allow Putin to potentially invade countries like Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia.”

The war in Ukraine prompted Western leaders of the bloc to rethink their national security strategy in the face of Putin, who has historically sought to undermine NATO’s expansion in Europe.

“If Russia deployed troops to the Suwalki Gap, it would likely trigger an immediate military response from other NATO countries, which would see it as a direct attack on its member states in the region,” Yoxon added.

“Such a move would signal that Russia is ready to escalate its confrontation with NATO into a full-scale war and risk a nuclear escalation on both sides.”

Separately, Warsaw summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to Poland on Tuesday after a Polish foreign policy adviser accused Kiev of being ungrateful for Poland’s support to export its grain.

In July, Russia pulled out of a deal that allowed safe passage of Ukrainian grain from southern ports in the region, pushing up wheat prices and putting pressure on countries in the global south that rely on the crucial export.

Five EU countries, four of which border Ukraine – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria – lifted the sanctions on imports of Ukrainian grain that they had installed to protect their own agricultural industries.

But on Tuesday, Kiev summoned the Polish ambassador to Ukraine after the head of the presidential office for international policy, Marcin Przydacz, said on Monday that it should “start to understand what role Poland has played for Ukraine over the past months and years. ”

Kyiv said that “statements about the Ukrainians’ alleged ingratitude for the assistance of the Republic of Poland do not reflect reality and as such are unacceptable.”

It added that Ukraine and Poland’s friendship goes “far deeper than political pragmatism,” stressing that “no statements will prevent us from jointly fighting for peace and building a common European future.”

About adminplay

Check Also

Andrew Tate released from house arrest in Romania as he awaits a rape trial

Comment on this storyComment Andrew Tate, the controversial social media personality accused of rape and …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *