Poland rushes troops in as Belarus military exercises branded ‘cover’ for attack
Wagner Group military member teaches Belarusian soldiers
Belarus’s military exercises could be used as “cover” for an attack on NATO, a geopolitical analyst has warned, as Polish troops mount on the border.
The Poland-Belarus border has become a potential flashpoint after Minsk began conducting large military exercises there last week, a move which saw Warsaw rush troops to the region with the aim of adding 10,000 soldiers.
The exercises came as Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said he was holding back Wagner fighters who wanted to go on an “excursion” into Poland.
Human rights and national security lawyer Irina Tsukerman told Daily Express US that these types of exercises had the potential to be a “cover” for an attack.
“These exercises have served as a cover for more significant military activity, such as the 2022 exercises, after which Russia did not leave the area, but rather invaded Ukraine from the north,” the CEO of the crisis management company Scarab Rising said.
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She added: “There is a growing concern that the new Belarus exercises could serve as a cover either for a new invasion of Ukraine or as an attack on Lithuania or Poland.”
A “nightmare scenario” would consist of an attack by Belarus on Lithuania – which has a smaller military – without an “overwhelming NATO response”, according to Ms Tsukerman.
She added: “Belarus itself is being used as a proxy by Russia to test NATO and to avoid direct conflict.”
“Russia’s goal is to separate out smaller countries from NATO itself and to create a ‘boiling frog’ scenario where it engages smaller NATO members in various confrontations while embedding long-term security problems and weakening the resolve of bigger states.”
The area between Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad is known as the Suwalki Gap and is seen as a strategic weak spot for NATO.
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An invasion into the sparsely populated corridor could connect Kaliningrad and Belarus severing NATO’s Baltic States from central Europe.
Ms Tsukerman said that Russian control of this area “would likely jeopardize NATO’s attempts to defend the Baltic states”.
Earlier this month, two Belarusian helicopters entered Polish airspace briefly sparking alarm.
Minsk denied the incursion likening it to an “old wives tale” but social media footage showed the aircraft over the border town of Białowieża.
The incident occurred after Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned that Wagner mercenaries could infiltrate the country disguised as migrants to stage a “hybrid attack”.
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