Poland Reinforces Border After Belarus Forces Violate Airspace

The battle lines in the proxy war between Russia and the West are now extended to the border between Poland and Belarus. Warsaw accused its neighbor of flying two military helicopters into its airspace and escalating tensions in an already troubled region.

Poland responded by deploying additional troops and military helicopters to the shared border.

It was Monday when the Polish Ministry of Defense said two Belarussian helicopters breached its airspace at very low altitude. This flying beneath the radar made them difficult to detect though easy to spot from the ground.

Images from the local area taken by surprised residents flooded social media. The Polish government called the incursion a provocation before sending more forces to the region.

Belarussian authorities confirmed they were on a training mission and reported they had informed Warsaw in advance of their activities. Entering Polish airspace, however, created a tense situation that resulted in the summoning of Belarus’ ambassador.

For its part, Belarus denied a violation occurred and insisted that Poland concocted the incident as justification for a troop buildup. Warsaw has been a strong backer of Ukraine in its war with Russia, and its border has become a flashpoint for area tensions.

Belarus permitted Russian President Vladimir Putin to launch his invasion of Ukraine from its territory, though it has not committed troops to the war. There is a long history of animosity between the ex-Soviet states, and Putin weighed in last week on a new controversy.

The president accused Warsaw of having territorial ambitions on Belarus. He further declared that any attack on the Kremlin’s ally would be considered an attack on Russia itself.

After the aborted coup attempt in Russia, Wagner mercenary forces are now in Belarus. An undetermined number are training President Alexander Lukashenko’s army, prompting Poland to move over 1,000 of its troops to stations near the border.

Meeting with Putin last month, Lukashenko quipped that some of the Wagner troops were eager for an excursion “to Warsaw and Rzeszow.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Saturday reported that a force of 100 Wagner mercenaries was close to the city of Grodno. This is on the Belarus side but near the border with Poland.

He called the development “increasingly dangerous.”