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Poland to double troops number at border with Belarus, accuses it of organizing illegal migration

WARSAW, Poland — The Polish government announced Wednesday that it is planning to deploy an additional 2,000 troops to its border with Belarus, twice the number the Border Guard agency had requested, as fears of illegal migration rise.

In an interview with state news agency PAP, a deputy interior minister, Maciej Wasik announced the decision and accused the Belarusian authorities of organizing illegal migration.

He said migration pressure on the Polish-Belarusian border area is growing, although it cannot compare to the situation two years ago.

At the time, large numbers of migrants from the Middle East and Africa arrived at the border, their travel there facilitated by flights and visas provided by the Minsk government – something Warsaw considered to be a form of “hybrid warfare.”

“If we had real border guards on the other side and not a smuggling service, these crossings would not exist at all,” Wasik said.

Polish authorities retaliated by building a tall steel wall, which has reduced the numbers of migrants and refugees crossing the border, but did not stop them entirely.

The fallout from Russia’s war against Ukraine has brought other concerns, including the presence of Russia-linked Wagner group mercenaries in Belarus this summer after their short-lived mutiny in Russia.

Earlier this week Belarus also began military exercises near its border with Poland and Lithuania. And last week two Belarusian helicopters flew briefly into Polish air space in what was viewed by Warsaw as a deliberate provocation.

The new troops will be an addition to the 2,000 already at the border. They support the work of hundreds of police and Border Guard officers, according to PAP.

Wasik said the new troops would reach their destination within the coming two weeks.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda announced Tuesday that Poland will hold its parliamentary election on Oct. 15. The ruling authorities that he is allied with have been trying to show voters that they are serious about security and defense as they seek a third term.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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