Eastern European countries should expect “further provocation” by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Polish Ambassador to the US has warned.
As Poland prepares to celebrate its Armed Forces Day on Tuesday, one high-ranking official issued a warning about Minsk and Moscow’s “growing aggressiveness”.
Speaking as Warsaw is sending 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus in support to the already existing border guards, Poland’s ambassador in Washington D.C. Marek Magierowski told the CNN: “We are committing more troops and more military equipment and we are deploying more units to that area because we consider it to be our obligation and our duty not only to defend ourselves but also to protect the external borders of NATO and the European Union in the face of Russian and Belarus’ growing aggressiveness.”
Poland started reinforcing security at its border with Belarus after two helicopters from the neighbouring nation breached its airspace earlier this month.
This came after Mr Lukashenko had suggested during a meeting with Putin that mercenaries from the Wagner Group, many of whom had relocated to Belarus following the attempted coup in Russia in June, were keen to conduct operations in Poland.
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The decision to increase the number of troops at the border has been weaponised by Minsk and Moscow, but Warsaw has stressed this is purely a deterrent move rather than a hostile one as the two nations claim.
The Polish ambassador to the US also said Russia and Belarus are engaging in “asymmetrical warfare” which involves provocative maneuvres and the circulation of fake news.
And Poland is unlikely to remain the only target, the ambassador added.
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Asked what concerning signs from Minsk and Moscow he is seeing, Mr Magierowski responded: “Poland is the only country in Europe which borders those three neighbours – Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
“So we can imagine how volatile the geopolitical situation in the region has become recently, so we have to brace ourselves for further provocation – not only in Poland but also in Lithuania and other Baltic countries.”
He went on to say: “Just a few weeks ago social [media] platforms in Poland were flooded with fake images of Wagner mercenaries penetrating into Poland and operating on Polish soil.
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“Just this morning two Wagner operatives were detained by Polish authorities accused of distributing propaganda material in Warsaw among many other cities.”
Mr Magierowski added the situation is becoming “really, very sensitive” in terms of Poland’s political and military involvement in the area.
The upcoming Polish military parade takes place every year in Warsaw and celebrates the 103rd anniversary of Poland’s victory at the Battle of Warsaw against the Soviet Union.
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