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10 Aug, 2023 12:59

NATO state to place 10,000 troops on Russian ally's border – minister

Poland is moving its forces to scare Belarus, defense chief Mariusz Blaszczak has said
NATO state to place 10,000 troops on Russian ally's border – minister

Poland is set to deploy thousands of additional troops to its border with Belarus amid heightened tensions in the region, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Thursday.

Speaking to national public broadcaster Polskie Radio, Blaszczak stated that “we are moving the army closer to the border with Belarus” in order to “scare the aggressor so that he does not dare to attack us.” The minister added that security in the region would be underpinned by 10,000 soldiers, with 4,000 assigned to directly support the Border Guard, and another 6,000 held in reserve.

The official’s remarks come shortly after the Polish Defense Ministry approved a request by border officials to send in an additional 1,000 soldiers to the area. Later, the Polish authorities changed their mind, deciding to increase the number to 2,000.

Blaszczak also lashed out at Minsk, repeating accusations that two Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace last week, calling the alleged incident “another provocation.” Minsk has denied the accusations, saying it had provided Warsaw with “detailed data” on the matter.

“Everything that is happening in Belarus is coordinated with the actions of Russia,” Blaszczak stated, without providing any evidence.

In recent weeks, Polish officials have also sounded the alarm over alleged attempts by migrants to illegally cross the Belarusian border, as well as alleged efforts by operatives working for the Russian defense contractor Wagner Group to infiltrate the country.

Numerous Wagner fighters moved to Belarus after a short-lived mutiny attempt in Russia, with some of them now involved in the training of Minsk’s troops.

Blaszczak’s comments also come after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced on Wednesday that Moscow would bolster its troops on its western borders amid a stand-off over the Ukraine conflict. In his speech, he described Poland as a “key instrument of anti-Russia policies of the US.” He also claimed that Warsaw is actively trying to build up “the most powerful army” in Europe, which, according to Polish officials, now numbers around 170,000 service members.