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Belarus claims Polish helicopter violated its airspace

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 1, 2023 10:45 PM 2 min read
Military Mi-8 helicopter flies during the parade Strong White and Red (colours of Polish national flag) to celebrate Polish Army Day on Wislostrada Street in the centre of Warsaw, the capital of Poland on Aug. 15, 2023. (Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

The State Border Committee of Belarus claimed that a Polish helicopter violated Belarusian airspace on Sept. 1. Warsaw hasn't confirmed the incident.

According to Belarusian border guards, the Mi-24 military helicopter allegedly crossed the border with Belarus' Byerastavitsa district in the Grodno region.

Minsk claimed that the Polish aircraft flew 1,200 meters into the Belarusian territory "at an extremely low altitude" and then returned.

The Committee published a video allegedly showing the helicopter flying back to Poland, but it's impossible to establish the aircraft's origin and verify the location from the footage.

The border guards added they had notified the Polish side of the purported violation. Belarus' Foreign Ministry summoned Poland's chargé d'affaires for an explanation.

As of the evening of Sept. 1, the Polish government hasn't commented on the accusations.

Poland, Baltic states threaten to close borders with Belarus
Poland and the Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania have promised to shut down their borders with Belarus if a “critical situation” occurs, Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said at a summit in Warsaw on Aug. 28.

A month ago, the Polish Defense Ministry said that two Belarusian helicopters violated the country's airspace during exercises near the border, which has been denied by Minsk.

The tensions at Belarus' borders with Poland and the Baltic countries have been mounting since 2021, when Minsk engineered a migrant crisis.

Concerns among NATO's eastern members spiked again following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and more recently when fighters of the Russian Wagner Group began moving to Belarus following their short-lived rebellion against the Kremlin.

In response to the escalating tensions, countries at NATO's eastern flank began reinforcing their eastern borders and limiting the number of border crossings.

National Resistance Center: Wagner fighters leave Belarus due to low pay
Over a thousand Wagner Group mercenaries have departed Belarus because they are unhappy with their pay, the National Restistance Center reported on Aug. 19.
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