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Poland deploys police helicopter, armoured vehicles to Belarus border: officials

04.07.2023 07:00
Poland is sending heavy police equipment, including a helicopter and armoured trucks, to help reinforce the Belarusian border amid rising migrant pressure and the movement of Russia’s Wagner Group of mercenaries to Belarus, officials have said.
The Polish Tajfun (Typhoon) armoured riot control vehicle.
The Polish Tajfun (Typhoon) armoured riot control vehicle.Photo: policja.pl

The latest move was announced by a spokeswoman for the Polish Border Guard agency, Anna Michalska, news outlets reported.

Michalska told Poland's PAP news agency on Monday that the government was further strengthening the border with Belarus by deploying a Bell police helicopter, armoured police water cannon, riot control trucks and light armoured personnel carriers.

The Border Guard spokeswoman said that “equipment support is just as important for the border personnel as the deployment of additional officers.”

On Sunday, Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said the government would  put 500 extra police on its border with Belarus to deal with rising migrant pressure and a potential security risk from the relocation of Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries to Belarus.

On Monday, Kamiński said the additional police forces had “started to arrive” at the Belarus border and the deployment would be completed “in the coming days.”

The Polish interior minister also told reporters that the situation on the border was “tense.”

He added: “Reports about a possible arrival of a huge number of Wagner soldiers are very credible. It hasn’t happened yet, but we must be prepared for such a scenario.”

Kamiński also said that, in addition to extra police, Poland was deploying more troops to the Belarusian border.

Kamiński stated: “These forces will be further increased if necessary. We are sending a clear message to the other side that we’re ready. We are aware of the possibility of various provocations. Our agencies and NATO allies are monitoring the situation very closely. We are pooling information immediately. And so we are aware of developments in Belarus.”

The interior minister told reporters that the rogue warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner fighters “have not arrived at the Polish-Belarusian border yet,” but added that “there was definitely a plan to deploy them” to the area. 

Prigozhin, who led a failed rebellion against Russia’s military command on June 24, was allowed to move to Belarus, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported.   

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Wagner troops the possibility of relocating to Belarus, sparking fears among eastern NATO members that their presence would cause greater instability in the region, the Reuters news agency reported.

Poland has accused Belarus of artificially creating a migrant crisis on the border since 2021 by importing people from the Middle East and Africa and attempting to push them across the frontier to destabilise the European Union, according to news outlets.

The Polish Border Guard agency said on Sunday that 159 people tried to cross into Poland from Belarus illegally the previous day, adding that the numbers had been growing steadily in recent months, although they were well below levels seen in 2021, Reuters reported.

On June 28, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński said that Poland would put more personnel and physical reinforcements at its eastern border in response to plans for Russia’s  Wagner Group of mercenaries to relocate to Belarus.    

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Tuesday is day 496 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, infosecurity24.pl