Poland Increases Troop Deployments to Belarusian Border: Arms Buildups on Both Sides as Tensions Rise

The Polish Defence Ministry has confirmed that it will further increase its force deployments on its border with neighbouring Belarus, which has become increasingly tense from 2020 as relations between Minsk and the Western Bloc have deteriorated and moreso from early 2022 as Russia increased its military presence on Belarusian territory. “Given the fast-moving situation on the Polish-Belarusian border and at the request of the Commander in Chief of the Border Guard to get the military more involved in protecting the border, the Minister of National Defense has ordered that this request be fulfilled and additional troops be dispatched to patrol the border zone,” the ministry stated. Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak elaborated on August 10 that Warsaw intended to deploy 10,000 more personnel to the Belarusian border. Poland has played a leading role alongside Germany, Britain and the United States in supporting street protests and riots against the Belarusian state in 2020 which sought to install a pro-Western government in Minsk, with Warsaw hosting and extensively supporting Belarusian paramilitary forces that are seeking to launch operations to bring about the state’s downfall. Responding to the buildup, head of the Department of International Military Cooperation of the Belarusian Defence Ministry Valery Revenko alleged: “Poland is ignoring Belarus’ proposals to resume military dialogue and evades clarifying the real aims of the unusual military activity near the Belarusian border. Groundless build-up of Polish forces and assets continues.” Minsk has for years warned of a growing threat posed by the expansion of NATO forces on its borders.

Where Belarus has played an important role in supporting the Russian war effort in Ukraine, albeit without sending troops to participate in hostilities, Poland has been among the most committed to ensuring a victory for Kiev. Polish military contractors have played very significant roles in the war effort, with the head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin, for one, having reported deployments: “Well-trained enemy units are now being tossed into Bakhmut. Polish speech all day long. While I used to say there were few mercenaries, now there’s a large number of them.” Ideologically motivated units of Polish volunteer fighters have also had an important presence on the frontlines in Ukraine, with the Polish Volunteer Corps having been prominently involved in an assault on Russia’s Grayvoron District in May. The activities of Polish contractors and volunteer units against Russia sets a dangerous precedent for potential operations by them, as well as by Western-aligned Belarusian paramilitaries based in Poland, carrying out operations on Belarusian territory. With Poland having donated the bulk of its arsenals including MiG-29 fighters, T-72 tanks and Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, it has invested heavily in re arming with mass acquisitions of cutting edge fighters, tanks artillery pieces and rocket artillery systems from South Korea under contracts signed in 2022. Belarus has also invested significantly in strengthening its defences with acquisitions of new assets such as S-400 air defence systems, Iskander ballistic missile systems and MI-35 helicopters from Russia, and has been reinforced since early July by the presence of Wagner Group contractors from Russia.