Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki claimed on Thursday that Wagner fighters were deployed to Belarus in an attempt to “destabilize” bordering NATO countries, which the alliance refers to as its eastern flank.
Morawiecki called the Russian mercenary force “extremely dangerous” and said it had been “being redeployed to NATO’s eastern flank to destabilize it.” He estimated there could be more than 4,000 Wagner members in Belarus.
Morawiecki made the comments with Lithuanian President Gitanas Naused while meeting at the Suwałki Gap, a strip of land on the Polish-Lithuanian border that stretches from Belarus to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The two leaders met to discuss the threat they believe Wagner poses to the region.
“Today, the borders of Poland and Lithuania are the borders of the free world that stops the pressure from the despotism from the East,” Morawiecki said. He warned that Wagner could carry out “sabotage actions” and thanked Lithuania for “military cooperation and for the joint promise that we will defend every piece of land of NATO countries.”
Poland has been beefing up its border with Belarus since Wagner fighters went there as part of a deal to end Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny against the Russian military establishment. Tensions escalated on Tuesday when Poland accused Belarus of violating its airspace with military helicopters, an accusation Minsk denied.
Separately on Thursday, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Warsaw’s response to recent “provocations” has been to “increase the size of the Polish Army on the eastern border of the country by redeploying troops from the west.”