Tensions on NATO’s eastern flank are rising as the Polish Interior Minister said on Monday that Poland and the Baltic states are to all close their borders with Belarus if there is “an armed incident.”
This comes as the NATO countries are fearing there will be a “critical incident” involving Wagner mercenaries.
Belarus shares their border with the EU and NATO members such as Poland, Lithuania and Latvia and there has been increased and justified security concerns since the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko invited Wagner fighters to his country.
Mariusz Kaminski told a joint press conference with his Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian counterparts, “We demand from the authorities in Minsk that the Wagner Group immediately leave the territory of Belarus and that illegal migrants immediately leave the border area and are sent back to their home countries.
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“If there is a critical incident, regardless of whether it is at the Polish or Lithuanian border, we will retaliate immediately.
“All border crossings that have been opened so far will be closed.”
Lithuanian interior minister Agne Bilotaite told reporters of the two main criteria which will lead to the borders immediately being closed.
Bilotaite said, “First of all, an armed incident at the border of one of the countries,” she said.
She added, “The incident would need to pose a serious threat to national security.
“The other criterion is a mass breakthrough of migrants through the border of one of the states.”
A high-ranking Polish official has warned of “Russian and Belarus growing aggressiveness” which affects the “external borders of NATO” and European countries.
The Polish Ambassador to the US warned NATO and European countries to expect “further provocation” from Minsk and Moscow.
Marek Magierowski told CNN, “We are committing more troops and more military equipment and we are deploying more units to that area because we consider it to be our obligation and our duty not only to defend ourselves but also to protect the external borders of NATO and the European Union in the face of Russian and Belarus’ growing aggressiveness.”
Earlier this month Poland sent around 10,000 troops to the Belarusian border as tensions continue to mount.
The Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on 10 August the soldiers will join border guards in an attempt to “scare away” any possible threats.
Speaking to public radio Blaszczak said, “About 10,000 soldiers will be on the border, of which 4,000 will directly support the Border Guard and 6,000 will be in the reserve.
“We move the army closer to the border with Belarus to scare away the aggressor so that it does not dare to attack us.”