Poland has warned that the growing presence of the Russian mercenary group Wagner in Belarus is aimed at destabilising NATO’s eastern wing in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said after a meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Naused on 3 August that NATO allies need to increase their vigilance as the likelihood of provocations remains very high.
Morawiecki’s comments came two days after two Belarusian military helicopters conducting exercises near the border briefly violated Polish airspace.
The Belarusian defence ministry denied this and accused Warsaw of “fabrications”.
“We must be aware that the number of provocations will increase, the Wagner group is extremely dangerous and they are moving to the eastern flank to destabilise it,” Morawiecki said.
Thousands of Wagner’s mercenaries arrived in Belarus after the group’s short-lived mutiny in Russia, and on 30 July the Belarusian defence ministry announced that Wagner had started training parts of their army.
Morawiecki and Nauseda met in the Polish border town of Suwalki, which lies on what is now the Suwalki Corridor – an 80-kilometre stretch that is NATO’s only land link with Baltic members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
In Ukraine, several people were injured, one seriously, in Russian shelling of the southern city of Kherson, local authorities reported on 3 August, shortly after Russia launched a new wave of drone attacks on Kiev for the second day in a row./RSE/