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Poland, NATO allies have big advantage over Russia in Suwałki Corridor: expert

01.08.2023 07:30
Poland and the NATO alliance have a considerable advantage over Russian and Belarusian forces in the strategic Suwałki Corridor, and are well prepared to repel any attack, a former Polish top commander has said.
Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak.
Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak.PAP/Piotr Polak

Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak made the assessment in an interview with Polish state news agency PAP on Monday.

The Suwałki Corridor area is on the Polish-Lithuanian border, separating the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea from Belarus, as well as linking the Baltic states with the rest of the NATO alliance.

Skrzypczak, a former commander of Poland’s land forces, told PAP that an armed assault by Russia on the Suwałki Corridor was unlikely as it would represent “military aggression against NATO” and an attempt to start World War III.

He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin was "afraid of such a prospect" as “Russia would disappear” under such a scenario.

At the same time, Skrzypczak said that the Suwałki Corridor could be used “for hybrid actions and espionage.”

He told PAP that the Kremlin would “seek to provoke NATO in this area,” but stressed that Poland had amassed “enormous potential,” including three combat-ready divisions.

'We hold a crushing advantage'

Skrzypczak said: “We hold a crushing advantage over the army of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the Wagner Group fighters in this region.”

He added: “American forces are stationed in Poland, while Canadian and German troops are deployed in Lithuania, on the other side of the border. Everyone is prepared for a defensive operation.”

On Saturday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that more than 100 Wagner fighters had moved near the Belarusian city of Grodno, close to the Suwałki Corridor.

'Any attacks by Wagner Group will be seen as attack by Russian gov't': US UN envoy

Meanwhile, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Monday that “any attacks by the Wagner Group will be seen as an attack by the Russian Government.”

The US envoy was asked during a virtual press briefing about the presence of some of the Wagner mercenaries close to the Polish border in Belarus and if it represented a real threat to NATO.

Thomas-Greenfield responded: “We have seen their malign efforts on the continent of Africa. So we certainly worry that this group, at the behest of the Russian Government – because they do not work independently of the Russian Government – is a threat to all of us. And we have to ensure that the message is clear that any attacks by the Wagner Group will be seen as an attack by the Russian Government.”

Last week, the US State Department reiterated that Washington would defend “every inch of NATO territory,” amid the deployment of Wagner troops to Belarus, the PAP news agency reported.

Thomas-Greenfield on Monday noted that “Russia has said itself directly that they may attack civilian ships using the Black Sea.”

She said: “This is not the actions that we would expect again of a permanent member of the Security Council.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations. Photo: EPA/JUSTIN LANE

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

Tuesday is day 524 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, usun.usmission.gov

Click on the audio player above for a report by Radio Poland's Michał Owczarek