President Vladimir Putin has warned Poland that any move against Russia’s neighbor and close ally Belarus will be viewed as an attack on Russia.
Putin accused Poland of seeking territory in the former Soviet Union.
He stated that there had been published reports of plans for a Polish-Lithuanian unit to be employed for operations in western Ukraine, sections of which had previously belonged to Poland, and eventually to capture territory there.
Moscow would react to any aggression against Belarus, which forms a loose “Union State” with Russia, “with all the means at our disposal”, Putin told a meeting of his Security Council in televised remarks.
Poland has denied any territorial ambitions in Belarus.
Boris Pistorius, the German minister of defense, stated on Friday that NATO and Germany were ready to assist Poland in safeguarding the eastern frontier of the alliance.
After Russian Wagner mercenaries landed in Belarus on Wednesday, Warsaw’s Security Committee decided to dispatch military forces to eastern Poland, its secretary was cited as saying on Friday by the state-run news agency PAP.
Prigozhin says Wagner, which led the conquest of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, is Russia’s most effective fighting force. But his frequent clashes with the Moscow defence establishment led him to stage an armed mutiny four weeks ago.
The insurrection ended with an agreement that Wagner fighters – many recruited from prison – could move to Belarus if they wished.
Wagner mercenaries reportedly began training Belarusian special forces on Thursday at a military range just a few miles from the Polish border, according to Minsk.
For the first time, Russia has started stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus in recent weeks. Putin will visit Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, with whom he frequently speaks, on Sunday in Russia, according to the Kremlin.