By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The Polish Defense Ministry says two Belarusian military helicopters that were conducting training exercises near the border violated Poland’s airspace on August 1.
The ministry said in a statement that the charge d’affaires of Belarus would be summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry to explain the circumstances of the incident.
The statement clarified that the helicopters crossed into Polish airspace at a very low altitude, making them difficult to detect. It said that is why an earlier statement from the Polish military said that the helicopters had not violated the NATO member’s airspace.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak convened a meeting of the Committee for National Security and Defense Affairs to discuss the matter and then ordered an increase in the number of soldiers on the border. He also allocated additional resources, including combat helicopters.
The statement added that NATO had been notified about the incident.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry said the accusations of airspace violations by two Belarusian military helicopters were fabricated. The ministry said on Telegram they were made up by the Polish military-political leadership “to justify another increase in forces and resources near the Belarusian border.”
Poland, Lithuania, and other countries on NATO’s eastern flank have voiced concerns about a potential threat from Belarus, which now hosts thousands of troops belonging to the Wagner mercenary group.
The Russian-linked mercenaries arrived in Belarus after the group’s short-lived rebellion in Russia at the end of June. Wagner troops, who played a key role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, last week began training mechanized units of the Belarusian military, the Defense Ministry said on July 30.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on July 29 that a group of “100 Wagner mercenaries” in Belarus had moved closer to the Polish border, calling it “a step toward further hybrid attack on the Polish territory.”