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Poland plans to deploy 10,000 troops on Belarus border as 'deterrent'

FILE - Polish border guards patrol the area of a newly built metal wall on the border between Poland and Belarus, near Kuznice, Poland, on June 30, 2022.
FILE - Polish border guards patrol the area of a newly built metal wall on the border between Poland and Belarus, near Kuznice, Poland, on June 30, 2022. Copyright Michal Dyjuk/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Michal Dyjuk/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Joshua Askew with AFP
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The NATO member has recently warned of the threat posed by Russian Wagner mercenaries based in Belarus.

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Poland plans to deploy some 10,000 soldiers on its eastern border with Belarus, the Polish Minister of Defense announced on Thursday. 

Beefed by security would be a "deterrent" amid rising tensions between Warsaw and Minsk, a staunch ally of Moscow. 

"It will be about 10,000 soldiers, 4,000 of whom will be directly engaged in border police support operations and 6,000 others as reinforcements," Mariusz Blaszczak told Polish public radio.

Just yesterday the minister announced 2,000 soldiers would be dispatched within two weeks to reinforce the border, joining an existing force already stationed in the area. 

Fears of a provocation on Poland's borders have risen, following the arrival of thousands of mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group on Belarussian soil. 

However, Andrzej Kruczyński, a Polish security expert told Lithuania's public broadcaster LRT that panic around the mercenaries was “bizarre and absurd”, suggesting Poland's ruling PiS was likely using security concerns "to their advantage" amid upcoming elections. 

"[Wagner forces] are in no way a threat to us. It is necessary to look at the situation calmly. We can continue strengthening the border, but not to [...] stir up unrest [in the society],” said the retired colonel.

Two Belarusian helicopters briefly violated Polish airspace last week, which Warsaw called an antagonistic move. 

Warsaw also accuses Minsk and Moscow of orchestrating a new influx of migrants into the European Union in order to destabilise the region.

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

During the past month, more than 4,000 migrants have tried to cross the Polish border.

“Russia and Belarus are increasing the pressure on the borders," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a news conference with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda last Thursday. "We must be aware that the number of these provocations will grow." 

Dr Stephen Hall, lecturer of Russian politics at the University of Bath, told Euronews earlier in August Wagner could stage an attack to sever the Baltics from NATO, though he questioned if such a "suicidal" step would be taken, owing to immense geopolitical risks. 

He suggested such an assault could happen against the Suwalki Gap, a sparsely populated land corridor sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland to the north and south, and Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad enclave to the east and west.

"Wagner are relatively well equipped, they're trained, and have the capacity in terms of not just the arms side of things, but also the propaganda," Hall told Euronews.

But he continued: "Even if Wagner were to punch a hole through the Polish defences and take the Suwalki Gap, then that is a declaration of war."

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