Poland to Send Additional Troops to Reinforce Border with Belarus Amid Tensions
Poland will send an additional 2,000 troops to reinforce its border with Belarus, a deputy interior minister told Poland’s state news agency on Wednesday, amid heightened tensions in the area related to the war in Ukraine.
The minister, Maciej Wasik, said that the deployment was double what the country’s Border Guard had requested and that the reinforcements would arrive in two weeks, according to PAP, Poland’s state news agency. There was no immediate response from Belarus.
While Mr. Wasik did not specify to PAP what had prompted the decision, the deployment comes as concerns are mounting in Poland, a NATO member, over the presence of mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner private military company in neighboring Belarus.
Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said last week that there were at least 4,000 Wagner fighters in Belarus. He warned against “provocations” and “sabotage actions” from Belarus by the relocated Wagner fighters, a caution that came days after two Belarusian helicopters breached Polish airspace, heightening jitters in the region.
Relocated Wagner Fighters in Belarus
The Wagner fighters were relocated to Belarus following their short-lived June mutiny in Russia. Belarus, a staunch Russian ally, shares a sizable border with both Poland, which supports Ukraine.
In late July, Poland said it would move military forces to its eastern border with Belarus, after the Belarusian Defense Ministry said its soldiers were being trained near there by Wagner fighters.
Wagner’s future has been in question since the aborted mutiny, which came to an end after President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus brokered a deal that allowed the Wagner forces to relocate to his country.