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8 Aug, 2023 17:45

Poland deploys more troops to border with Russia's ally

Citing the “dynamic situation” in the area, Warsaw has approved the transfer of an additional 1,000 soldiers
Poland deploys more troops to border with Russia's ally

The Polish military has moved to reinforce the country’s border with Belarus, as tensions continue to rise along the frontier. Warsaw has blamed the situation on surging migration and the presence of operatives working for Russian defense contractor Wagner Group.

According to a statement quoted by local media on Tuesday, the Polish defense ministry signed off on a request by Tomasz Praga, the head of the country’s border forces, to redeploy another thousand soldiers to the Polish-Belarusian frontier, citing the “dynamic situation” there.

At present, there are about 2,000 soldiers stationed in the area.

The request for reinforcements came after Polish Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wasik claimed that migration pressure on the Polish border with Belarus was growing, alleging that the development would be impossible without the complicity of Belarusian border guards.

According to Praga, some 19,000 people have attempted to illegally cross the border this year, compared to 16,000 in 2022.

The migration crisis in the region first arose in 2021, when Belarus emerged as a major transit point for Middle Eastern refugees trying to reach the EU. However, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko denied accusations that Minsk was helping to increase the flow of refugees into Poland.

In recent weeks, Polish authorities also flagged concerns about alleged attempts by Wagner Group operatives – who moved to Belarus as part of a deal ending a short-lived mutiny in Russia – to infiltrate the country. Warsaw also suggested it could end up closing the border to stave off the purported incursions.

Border tensions escalated even further last week when Poland claimed that two Belarusian helicopters had violated its airspace. Minsk denied the claim, saying that it has provided Warsaw with “detailed data” on aircraft flights that it said “confirms the absence of any grounds” for the accusations.