Ukraine war: Poland increases number of troops on Belarus border as Russia advances in Kharkiv

Polish servicemen attend a press conference of Poland's Minister of Defense, Mariusz Blaszczak, in Jarylowka, Poland, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023.
Polish servicemen attend a press conference of Poland's Minister of Defense, Mariusz Blaszczak, in Jarylowka, Poland, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. Copyright AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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Poland’s defence minister said Saturday that the country has increased the number of troops protecting its border with Belarus as a deterrent amid “destabilising” actions by its pro-Russian neighbour.

Mariusz Blaszczak met in Jarylowka, in eastern Poland, with some of the troops recently deployed close to the Belarus border.


He insisted that the increased military presence is purely a deterrent move, not a hostile act, as Minsk and Moscow are claiming.

“There is no doubt that the Belarus regime is cooperating with the Kremlin and that the attacks on the Polish border are intended to destabilise our country,” Blaszczak said.

Two Belarus military helicopters briefly entered Poland’s airspace last week, a move considered by Warsaw to be a deliberate provocation.

Blaszczak said that actions taken by Belarus “pose a threat to our security” and for that reason, Poland is building up its potential “to deter an aggressor".

He said this week that up to 10,000 Polish Army and Territorial Defense troops will be stationed on the border with Belarus, in addition to the usual Border Guards.

Some will be in active training and patrolling, others on standby.

Lithuania takes action after Belarus takes in Wagner mercenaries

Lithuania has closed two of its six crossing points with Belarus as tensions between the two neighbours rise. 

Vilnius is warning against provocations from Minsk and fighters from the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, who are now partly based in Belarus after their short-lived rebellion in Russia.

"By granting asylum to Wagner's mercenaries, Belarus has become a state that harbours a terrorist organisation", Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas told the press.

Vilnius believes that Minsk could be trying to recruit Lithuanians travelling on Belarusian territory for espionage purposes, put pressure on them or blackmail them by checking the contents of their telephones.

"All Lithuanian citizens travelling to Belarus must carefully assess the risks, including those to their health and lives", said Rustamas Liubajevas, head of the border guard service.


Russian attack kills civilians

Seven people were killed, including a baby, in a Russian bombardment of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine on Sunday, the Ukrainian government announced.

Interior Minister Igor Klymenko reported that six people died in the attack in the Kherson region. A photo posted by the minister shows a column of black smoke rising above a house.

"A husband, his wife and their 23-day-old daughter were killed by enemy artillery fire", he wrote on Telegram. "Their 12-year-old son has been hospitalised in a serious condition," he added.

In the town of Stanislav, two men were killed and one injured.

"The terrorists must be stopped," the minister wrote. "They must be stopped by force."


Ukraine evacuates towns in Kharkiv region as Russia advances

Several dozen towns in the Kharkiv region of north-eastern Ukraine ordered residents to evacuate on Thursday in the face of the advancing of the Russian army, which claims to be "improving its positions" in the area.

Russian forces had been driven out of the town of Kupiansk and the surrounding area, which it had occupied since the start of the invasion, by a Ukrainian lightning counter-attack in September 2022. In recent weeks, however, they have returned to the offensive and reclaimed lost territory.

"The situation remains difficult, but under control", said Serguiï Tcherevaty, Ukrainian army spokesman for the eastern sector of the front, on Telegram, deploying a common formulation used by Kyiv when its adversary pushes forward. "The Russians are trying to impose themselves and break through our defence," he added.

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