Poland will protect its border with Belarus with about 10,000 soldiers

Polish soldiers install barbed wire at the border. (AP Photo/Michal Kosc, File) (Michal Kosc/)

Poland plans to reinforce its eastern border with Moscow’s ally Belarus with “around” 10,000 troops, the defense minister announced Thursday, warning of potential security risks.

“There will be about 10,000 soldiers, 4,000 of whom will directly participate in the operations to support the border police and another 6,000 as reinforcements,” he declared. Mariusz Blaszczak to public radio.

The day before, the minister had announced the deployment of 2,000 additional soldiers to reinforce its eastern border, where there are already 2,000 soldiers stationed.

Poland, a member country of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), recently warned of the provocations by Belarus and the risks of the presence of the Russian group of mercenaries Wagner in the country.

Warsaw also accuses Minsk and Moscow of organizing a new record flow of migrants to the European Union (EU) to destabilize the region.

According to Polish border guards, 19,000 migrants have tried to enter Poland since the beginning of the year, against 16,000 in 2022.

In July, more than 4,000 migrants tried to cross the Polish border.

This Wednesday the Polish Deputy Minister of the Interior, Marcin Wasikhad said that 2,000 soldiers would be sent to the border with Belarus instead of the 1,000 announced a few days ago.

In a television interview, Wasik declared that the Defense Committee of the Council of Ministers formulated the request to reinforce the military contingent in that area and that the Defense Minister, Mariusz Blaszczakapproved the decision.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak addresses the soldiers.  Europa Press/Contact/Spc.  Joshua Zayas/US Army
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak addresses the soldiers. Europa Press/Contact/Spc. Joshua Zayas/US Army. (Europa Press/Contact/Spc. Joshu/)

On July 2, the Polish government announced that it would deploy 500 riot police and four vehicles equipped with water cannons to the Belarusian border, and last Monday it was learned that 1,000 soldiers would be added to the forces stationed there. Wednesday’s announcement extended this last figure to 2,000.

According to Deputy Minister Wasik, “The pressure (at the border) is growing and it is incomparable to how it was two years ago, because the illegal crossing attempts are now more organized and have the logistical help of the Belarusians.”

“If we had real border guards on the other side, and not smuggling services, these crossings wouldn’t exist at all,” he added.

Since the end of 2020, a situation that Poland describes as a “hybrid war” has been generated on the Polish-Belarusian border, with the flow of hundreds of migrants trying to enter Poland illegally and with the connivance of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

This flow reached its peak in that year and since then the number of illegal crossings has decreased, according to the scant official data available, which however indicates that there has been an upturn in the last two months.

With the arrival, scheduled for the next two weeks, of these reinforcements, Poland will have stationed some 5,000 border guards, 4,000 soldiers, some 1,000 police officers and a variable number of members of the Territorial Defense Force – paramilitary volunteers – on its border with Belarus. .

On the other hand, and after two military helicopters from Belarus invaded Polish airspace a few days ago, the transfer of several combat helicopters to bases near the border was ordered.

Warsaw is following with concern the cantonment of mercenaries from the Wagner group in Belarusian territory and, according to the Polish Defense Ministry, there may be between 4,000 and 8,000 of them in various parts of the country.

The Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, recently warned that “there will be new provocations” from Minsk in the region and stated that “with the help of the Russians, they are testing the reaction capacity of Poland and its allies” NATO.

(With information from AFP and EFE)

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