Poland has been very vocal in denouncing Russia’s Wagner group setting up bases in neighboring Belarus, following the mutiny events of June 23-24 inside Russia. In the last several weeks, Warsaw has been bolstering its border defense force, also amid ultra-provocative Belarusian training exercises in the region.
Initially Poland early in the week said it would be deploying 2,000 additional troops to the border, but Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has newly announced a much bigger increase of 10,000 troops.
“About 10,000 soldiers will be on the border, of which 4,000 will directly support the Border Guard and 6,000 will be in the reserve,” Blaszczak said.
“We move the army closer to the border with Belarus to scare away the aggressor so that it does not dare to attack us,” he added as a warning.
Last week Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said NATO’s eastern flank faces the likelihood of “provocations” and “sabotage actions” from Belarus given the Wagner presence. Wagner had relocated many of this fighters to Belarus since June.
Poland at the same time alleged that two Belarusian helicopters violated Poland’s airspace, during what Minsk described as training exercises. The exercises appear to be sporadic and ongoing.
PM Morawiecki has gone so far as to claim PMC Wagner fighters “may try infiltrating Poland”—though there has as yet been no evidence of any hostile action by Wagner or border breaches.
Latvia and Lithuania have also made moves to strengthen border defense…
Latvian troops moving close to the border with Belarus.
Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are all on high alert due to the arrival of the Wagner Group in Belarus. pic.twitter.com/hA6y3RI7Fr
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 4, 2023
Belarus hasn’t immediately react to the force build-up on the Polish side. Warsaw has been among Ukraine’s most ardent foreign backers; however, President Andrzej Duda has in fresh comments to The Washington Post expressed doubts over whether the counteroffensive can succeed. “Does Ukraine have enough weapons to change the balance of the war and get the upper hand?” And he answered his own rhetorical with – “Probably, no.”