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Poland prepares for threat from Wagner troops in Belarus: gov't

31.07.2023 08:30
Poland is guarding its border with Belarus with full determination against a threat from Russia's Wagner Group fighters stationed there, senior government officials have said.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks at a meeting with voters in the southern city of Tychy on Saturday, July 29, 2023.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks at a meeting with voters in the southern city of Tychy on Saturday, July 29, 2023.PAP/Zbigniew Meissner

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki addressed the threat from the Wagner Group mercenaries at the weekend, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

He said that more than 100 Wagner fighters had moved to the Suwałki Corridor area on the Polish-Lithuanian border, which separates the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea from Belarus.

The prime minister added that this represented a step towards a "further hybrid attack on Polish territory" using illegal migrants. 

Speaking at a meeting with voters in the southern city of Tychy on Saturday, Morawiecki said: “Today we are defending the border with Belarus with full determination to ensure that illegal migrants do not flood Poland. This year alone, there have been 16,500 attempts to cross illegally into Poland.”

He added that his government had strengthened the border with additional troops and moved to build a steel wall along its length.

‘Wagner Group is a Russian tool’: deputy PM 

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński discussed the threat from the Wagner Group at a meeting with families in the western village of Połajewo on Sunday, the PAP news agency reported.

Kaczyński, who is the leader of Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, said that “there is a new situation, a new threat” beyond Poland’s eastern border. 

He stated: “An extremely dangerous armed force has arrived in Belarus. Officially, it’s a private company, but everyone knows it’s essentially a Russian tool. The Wagner fighters have arrived in Belarus and certainly not without reason.”

The deputy prime minister added: “They have arrived to create some new threats … perhaps to infiltrate our border.”

'Parliamentary elections will be held as planned'

Kaczyński also said: “We consider this threat to be really serious. However, this does not mean that we are going to stop our democratic processes. Whatever happens at the border … parliamentary elections will be held as planned.”

Poland’s next general election is scheduled for the autumn. The exact date will be set by the president, with October 15 the earliest constitutionally possible date, according to news outlets.

Kaczyński stated that his party sought to "ensure that Poland is a prosperous, strong and peaceful society with a well-functioning state," the PAP news agency reported.

Poland preparing for 'various actions' by Wagner fighters: gov't spokesman

Government spokesman Piotr Müller told private broadcaster Polsat News on Sunday that Poland was preparing for “various actions” by the Wagner Group.

Müller said: “The government must anticipate various scenarios of action by the Wagner Group: from their involvement in the operation of criminal groups organising migration flows to a scenario where they cross the border with weapons.”

He added that such an option must be taken into consideration and that’s why the government had moved additional troops to the Polish-Belarusian border, the PAP news agency reported.

'Situation on Poland’s border with Belarus remains tense': security official

Also on Sunday, the government commissioner for the security of the information space, Stanisław Żaryn, said that Belarusian officials continued to transport migrants to the Polish border, as well as providing them with equipment to cross into Poland and attack Polish border guards. 

Żaryn said in a tweet: “The situation on Poland’s border with Belarus remains tense. Attacks on Polish border patrols – guards and soldiers – carried out by groups of aggressive foreigners occur on everyday basis.”

He added that Belarusian officials supplied illegal migrants with ladders and cutting tools to surmount the border and with rocks and bricks to attack Polish border personnel, the PAP news agency reported.

'Poland is under constant attack'

Żaryn also said: “The hybrid operation involving the stimulated, artificial migratory pressure continues. Poland is under constant attack. It’s a part of the Russian plan to destabilize Europe, and particularly NATO’s eastern flank.”

He was referring to the latest data from the Polish Border Guard, according to which 91 migrants, including from Asia and Africa, attempted to cross illegally to Poland from Belarus on Saturday, the PAP news agency reported

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

Monday is day 523 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, wnp.pl