English Section

Russia's Wagner fighters may be used to step up migrant pressure on Poland, FM warns

19.07.2023 10:00
Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries could be used to create even stronger migrant pressures on Poland’s border with Belarus, the Polish foreign minister has warned. 
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau (centre) attends a United Nations meeting in New York earlier this week.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau (centre) attends a United Nations meeting in New York earlier this week.Twitter/Polish Foreign Ministry

Zbigniew Rau made the comment at a media briefing in the United States on Tuesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Summarising his three-day visit to New York, the Polish foreign minister was asked about the possibility of Wagner troops being used to increase migrant pressure on Poland.

Rau said: “It’s enough to state the facts. The fact that Wagner fighters are in Belarus has been confirmed by the Belarusian regime. It’s also a fact that they are expected to train Belarusian armed forces.”

He added: “At the same time, we know that Belarusian officials have so far guided and orchestrated the migrant pressure on our border. So if we connect all these facts, the prospect looks worrying, but also likely.”

While in New York, Poland’s top diplomat also highlighted the threat posed by the presence of Wagner Group mercenaries in Belarus in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the PAP news agency reported.

'Russian threats should never be underestimated'

At Tuesday’s press briefing, Rau was asked about the words of Russian lawmaker Andrey Kartapolov, who said Wagner troops could be used to attack the Suwałki Corridor area on the Polish-Lithuanian border, which separates the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea from Belarus.

Rau said that “this kind of rhetoric is part of Russia’s information warfare against the West, and particularly Poland.”

He added: “But over the centuries we’ve learned one thing. Russian threats should never be underestimated. I always say that Russia is predictable in its unpredictability. And so Poland is improving its armaments, improving its readiness, while the transatlantic alliance is prepared to take appropriate measures in case of such developments.”

The Polish foreign minister told reporters he had met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres to discuss the future of Ukrainian grain exports following Russia’s suspension of the  Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Rau said he had urged the other sides of the deal, Ukraine, the UN and Turkey, to ensure that Ukrainian grain continued to be exported by sea, “despite Russian threats of military action,” the PAP news agency reported. 

He added that "Russia’s actions regarding the Black Sea Grain Initiative" were "impacting its relations with the countries of the global South.”

The Polish foreign minister said he had focused in his speeches at the UN this week on getting a message through to these countries.

Rau added: “Polish foreign policy rejects any tendencies of an imperial or colonial nature in relations between states, for the reason that this type of policy will never ensure neither peace nor security. Our position is widely known in Europe, while globally, especially when it is communicated to the countries of the global South, where colonial experiences are still very vivid in the memory, it is being very well received. And it’s a way of confirming and strengthening our position.”

Rau also said that during his meetings in New York, both Guterres and Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, "expressed appreciation for cooperation with Poland on humanitarian issues," the PAP news agency reported.

Tuesday was the last day of Rau’s visit to New York, according to the Polish foreign ministry.

On Sunday, Poland’s top diplomat met with representatives of the local Polish community, while on Monday he took part in a UN Security Council debate on the war in Ukraine and held talks with the UN chief.

On Tuesday, he addressed a UN General Assembly meeting about the situation of people in Russian-occupied territories and met with the Red Cross’ Egger, the PAP news agency reported.

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

Wednesday is day 511 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, belsat.eu