Poland ready to tackle 'threats from the east’: security official

Poland’s NATO membership guarantees protection against „threats from the east,” including the presence of Russian mercenaries in Belarus, a senior Polish security official has said.

Stanisław Żaryn

Stanisław ŻarynPAP/Tomasz Gzell

Stanisław Żaryn made the comment in an interview with public broadcaster Polish Radio on Tuesday.

Żaryn, who is a deputy minister for the security services, said that one of such threats was the „hybrid operation on the eastern flank of NATO,” including the presence of Russia’s Wagner Group fighters in Belarus.

He told Polish Radio: “There may be attempts to infiltrate the border from Belarus to the West in order to physically destabilise our border.”

He also said that “certain propaganda measures may be carried out based on the presence of Wagner troops in Belarus.”

Żaryn argued that the government was “responding appropriately to the challenges,” while Poland’s membership of the NATO alliance guaranteed „real protection against threats from the east.”

He revealed that the Polish government was planning to hold talks with Latvian authorities about „the possible infiltration by Wagner mercenaries.”

According to the Latvian border guard agency, Wagner troops may have already attempted to cross from Belarus into Latvia, Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.

Moreover, Latvia has witnessed a growing pressure from African migrants trying to cross from Belarus, some of whom may have been recruited by the Wagner Group in Africa, according to officials in Riga.

Poland sends more troops to Belarus border

Meanwhile, Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak on Tuesday granted the Border Guard agency’s request to deploy additional soldiers to help patrol the Polish-Belarusian borderland, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The defence ministry said in a statement: “Due to the dynamic situation on the Polish-Belarusian border and the request by the Border Guard’s Commander to step up protection of the frontier, the defence minister has ordered that the request be granted and that additional soldiers be sent with a mission to patrol the Polish-Belarusian borderland.”

Migration pressure from Belarus ‘on the rise’: officials

Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wąsik on Monday said that migration pressure from Belarus was “on the rise,” with illegal migrants „also increasingly turning to aggression” against Polish border forces, throwing “bottles, stones and tree branches” at them.

In June, an object shot from the Belarusian side smashed windows in a Polish Border Guard vehicle, according to Wąsik.

“Entry into Poland wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of Belarusian officials,” Wąsik told reporters, adding that the migrant pressure was being orchestrated by Russian and Belarusian security services.

He also said that Belarusian officials were seeking to damage Poland’s steel wall along the border to help illegal migrants cross into Poland, and stated that “much bigger forces are needed at the frontier,” the PAP news agency reported.

At the moment, some 2,000 Polish soldiers are helping guard the border with Belarus, according to officials.  

A total of 112 foreign individuals attempted to cross illegally into Poland from Belarus over the past 24 hours, the Polish Border Guard agency said on Tuesday.

They represented 15 countries, including Nepal, Senegal and Yemen, the PAP news agency reported.

Since the start of the year, there have been more than 16,000 attempts to cross illegally from Belarus to Poland, by migrants from some 50 countries, the Polish Border Guard agency said on Tuesday. 

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAP

Radio Poland

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