Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Thursday that Warsaw plans to deploy 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus as part of a buildup that began after Wagner fighters traveled to Belarus.
“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,” Blaszczak said. “We move the army closer to the border with Belarus to scare away the aggressor so that it does not dare to attack us.”
His comments came a day after another Polish official said Warsaw was planning to send 2,000 troops to the border.
Polish officials estimate there are 4,000 Wagner members in Belarus. Last week, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki claimed the Russian mercenaries were sent to Belarus to “destabilize” NATO’s eastern flank and warned they could be planning “provocations.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has played into the Polish fears by claiming that Wagner fighters said they wanted to go to Poland. Wagner members also recently conducted drills near the Polish border.
The Polish-Belarusian border has become a potential flashpoint for a conflict between NATO and Russia as Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned he would treat an attack on Belarus as an attack on Russia. The US and NATO have repeatedly vowed to defend the alliance’s “eastern flank,” referring to Poland and other Eastern European NATO members.