Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claimed on Sunday that members of the Wagner group who are in Belarus want to go into Poland, comments that come amid heightened tensions between Warsaw and Minsk.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, Lukashenko told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is “starting to get tense with the Wagner group because they want to march on Warsaw.”
“The Wagner group has started to stress us: ‘We want to go to the West. Let us go.’ I said, why do you want to go to the West? ‘Well, to go on a tour to Warsaw, to Rzeszow,'” Lukashenko added.
Lukashenko’s comments came after Warsaw said it was sending more troops to eastern Poland in response to Wagner’s presence in Belarus. The Belarusian Defense Ministry said Thursday that Wagner fighters were training Belarusian troops near the Polish border.
On Friday, Putin warned Poland that he would treat any attack on Belarus as an attack on Russia. “Aggression against Belarus will mean aggression against the Russian Federation,” he told the Russian Security Council. “We will respond to it with all means at our disposal.”
Putin also claimed that Poland had its eye on western Ukrainian territory, warning that a joint Polish-Lithuanian force could enter Ukraine under the guise of helping protect the country. He said this would be done “purportedly for ensuring the security of contemporary western Ukraine, but in fact — if you call things by their proper names — for the subsequent occupation of these territories.”