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Defense Ministry: Belarusian helicopters violate Polish airspace

by Dinara Khalilova August 1, 2023 10:32 PM 2 min read
This photo published by the Polish OSINT group Sluzby i Obywatel on Twitter allegedly shows Belarusian helicopters of Mi-24 and Mi-8 models flying over the area of Bialowieza, Poland, on Aug. 1, 2023.
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The Polish Defense Ministry confirmed late on Aug. 1 that two Belarusian helicopters violated the country's airspace during exercises near the border.

Photos depicting the helicopters flying over the Polish village of Bialowieza appeared on social media earlier in the day, but the military initially denied the incident. "The border crossing took place… at a very low altitude, making it difficult to detect by radar systems," the defense ministry then explained.

According to the ministry's statement, the Belarusian side had previously informed Warsaw about the planned training. A meeting of the Committee for National Security and Defense Affairs was convened to discuss the incident.

After the meeting, Poland's Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak ordered to increase the number of troops at the Polish-Belarusian border and deploy additional equipment, including combat helicopters.

Poland also informed NATO of the airspace violation and decided to summon the charge d'affaires of Belarus to the Foreign Ministry for an explanation.

Poland to double the size of military in response to security threat
The size of the Polish military is being nearly doubled in response to the threat posed by Russia and Belarus, Polish deputy prime minister Jarosław Kaczynski said during a visit to the town of Koden near the Belarusian border on July 27.

"We would like to remind you that Russia and Belarus have recently intensified hybrid activities against Poland," the defense ministry wrote. "Due to possible further provocations, we call for responsible dissemination and commenting on information that the Russian and Belarusian regimes may use."

The Belarusian Defense Ministry called Warsaw's statement "far-fetched," claiming it was made "to justify the build-up of forces and means near the Belarusian border."

On July 29, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Russia's state-backed mercenary Wagner Group could infiltrate Poland from Belarus, where its fighters are currently stationed.

According to Morawiecki, over 100 Wagner mercenaries were deployed in the Grodno region of Belarus near the Suwalki Gap, an area southwest of the Lithuanian-Polish border.

National Resistance Center: Wagner recruiting fighters in Belarus on condition of readiness to fight in Poland, Lithuania
The Wagner Group paramilitary organization is continuing to recruit fighters in Belarus while training the Belarusian military, under the condition that the new recruits are ready “to participate in hostilities on the territory of the countries neighboring Belarus, in particular, Poland and Lithuani…
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