Poland has put itself in a difficult position with its aggressive stance against Russia. Wagner Group could be involved in the “hybrid war” between Belrus and Europe from their base in Minsk. Wagner has allegedly previously engaged in covert activities close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania.
About a hundred Wagner personnel have reportedly pushed closer to the Suwalki Gap near Grodno, which is a strip of land approximately 65 kilometres long between Lithuania and Poland, connecting Belarus to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, according to the right-winger Mateusz Morawiecki, who is presently the Prime Minister of Poland. During a news conference at an arms factory in Gliwice in the country’s southern region, Morawiecki warned that the situation is becoming even more perilous. He believes this is a precursor to another hybrid attack on Polish land. Morawiecki also mentioned the attacks on Poland’s border with Belarus several times during an RMF FM programme.
Wagner mercenaries might allegedly assist illegal migrants in entering the European Union or even mimic migrants themselves in an additional attempt to undermine the Region, said the Prime Minister. After being forced to leave Ukraine a month ago due to an unsuccessful rebellion against Moscow’s leadership led by Prigozhin, Wagner has relocated to Belarus.
For some years now, Poland has been working on restructuring its military forces to be more effective in light of the shifting circumstances. According to the Polish Deputy Prime Minister, Yaroslav Kaczynski, another right-winger, who just visited the city of Koden on the Belarusian border, the strength of the Polish army has virtually doubled in response to the threat posed by Russia and Belarus. He said there would be six divisions, possibly creating a seventh one, and the Polish military presence along the Belarusian border would also be expanded.
Belarus to aid Western Ukraine
During a meeting on July 23 at the Konstantinovsky Palace, the presidents of Russia and the Republic of Belarus discussed a special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine and the Wagner Group.
According to Lukashenko, the counteroffensive launched by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) was ineffectual and “failed” even though significant strategic reserves were committed to the conflict. This raises the question of what other forms of support the nations that makeup NATO will provide for the administration in Kyiv beyond the provision of arms and ammunition.
Lukashenko displayed a map that showed Polish military units moving closer to the borders of Belarus. According to him, behind the “smokescreen” of conversations discussing Ukraine’s projected “gradual” entrance to NATO, plans are being devised for deploying foreign forces into western Ukraine, followed by Poland’s annexation of the territory. Because this scenario would present an additional threat coming from the south, it is untenable for Minsk, which is why Lukashenko asserted he had requested assistance from Putin. Lukashenko stated that Belarus would indeed support and assist the population of Western Ukraine if they asked for it.
Wagner Puts Pressure on Belarus
Lukashenko referred to the Wagner Group and stated that its members had requested to “visit Warsaw and Rzeszow.” They are “ready to travel west and request permission” even though all of the volunteers from Russia’s assault forces have positioned themselves in the centre of Belarus.
Lukashenko stated that this places pressure on the leadership of the Republic of Belarus and that he would not want to relocate them there because they are in a foul mood and, to be fair, they are aware of what is happening around Belarus.
He said Ivan Kubrakov, the director of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs, met with representatives of the Wagner Group at the Internal Troops Training Centre in Belarus, where they discussed the training of Belarusian fighters by the Wagner Group’s instructors and developed a cooperation plan. He added that work has begun at the Brestsky training facility in the country’s southwest.
The Wagner operatives began training Belarusian operational forces, primarily Special Operations Forces, defence against weapons of mass destruction, mechanised troops, engineering troops, communications troops and territorial defence shortly after the arrival of the first convoys to the country. Near the Polish frontier, there is a military training ground in Brest where, among other things, survival on the battlefield is emphasised. It is unclear what equipment the Wagnerians possess, but they are trained to use the weapons employed by the Belarusian armed forces and can be readily supplied with them by the Belarusian government.
In addition, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Konkord Management and Consulting was registered in the Mogilev region on July 19. This will enable him to engage in legal activity in Belarus and transfer funds to accounts in the country. Thus, a portion of Prigozhin’s assets may be transferred to Belarus and a part of the Wagner Group’s income from its activities in Africa. The Wagner Group can also continue to support the growth of the Belarusian security company Guard Service, whose proprietors are close associates of Lukashenka.
What does this mean for the Region?
On July 21, during a Security Council meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated his charges on Poland of intending to occupy western Ukraine and Belarus. Putin added that Russia would retaliate if Poland attacked Belarus.
Putin’s and Lukashenka’s statements and NATO’s operations spearheaded by the United States against Russia and Belarus make it abundantly evident that the regional hybrid threat will grow.