The Polish government announced on Tuesday that two Belarusian helicopters had entered its airspace earlier in the day during a training exercise, raising the already high tensions along the NATO member’s border with Russia’s close ally.
Authorities in Warsaw said that it would increase its military presence along the border in response.
“After the commanders and service chiefs presented conclusions from the analysis of the situation, it was established that today, August 1, 2023, there was a violation of Polish airspace by two Belarusian helicopters that were training near the border,” the Polish Ministry of Defense announced via a statement.
“The Belarusian side had previously informed the Polish side about the training. The border crossing took place in the Biaowiea area at a very low altitude, making it difficult to detect by radar systems,” the Polish MoD added. “Therefore, in the morning announcement, the Operational Command of the Armed Forces Branches informed that the Polish radar systems did not record any violation of Polish airspace.”
The Polish Foreign Ministry said that the chargé d’affaires of Belarus was immediately summoned.
“The Polish side emphasized that the incident is perceived as another element of the escalation of tension on the Polish-Belarusian border. Poland expects Belarus to refrain from such activities,” the foreign ministry also announced via a statement.
Border War Brewing?
Tensions have been high in Poland and neighboring Lithuania as mercenaries linked to the Wagner Group arrived in Belarus following the short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin in June. Both Poland and Lithuania are members of the European Union and are members of the NATO alliance.
It was on Saturday that Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that more than 100 troops belonging to Wagner in Belarus had moved close to the border with Poland. He said that they were approaching the Suwalki Gap, a strategic stretch of Polish territory that military analysts have suggested would be a crucial path that an invading force would take to reach the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
The Polish Border Wall
For two years, there have been large number of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa who have been attempting to enter the two nations, and each has seen the migration as an attempt by Moscow-ally Belarus to create regional instability.
It was only in June that Poland completed a “border wall” along its northern frontier with Belarus to keep the migrants. Construction on the 5.5-meter (18-foot) high wall along the 186 km (115 mile) border with Belarus began before Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, but work then intensified on it.
An invasion of Poland would almost certainly trigger Article 5 of the NATO treaty that sees an attack against one ally to be considered an attack against all of the allies.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism.