Poland has accused Belarus of violating its airspace, leading to increased deployment of troops along the border. According to Polish authorities, two Belarusian helicopters crossed into Polish airspace during a training exercise in the Bialowieza region, flying at a very low altitude to avoid radar detection.
The Bialowieza region holds strategic significance, as it is situated south of the Suwalki gap—a narrow land strip between Poland and Lithuania critical to NATO, the EU, Russia, and Belarus. This area serves as a crucial link between the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and Belarus, providing the only overland connection between the Baltic states and the rest of the EU.
In response to the alleged airspace violation, the Polish Defence Ministry announced the deployment of additional troops and combat helicopters along the border. Poland also informed NATO about the incident.
Belarusian authorities, on the other hand, have strongly denied the accusation, calling it “far-fetched.” The Belarusian Defence Ministry claimed that their helicopters did not breach Polish airspace and accused Poland of using the incident to justify the buildup of forces near the Belarusian border.
The situation is further complicated by reports of the Wagner mercenary group’s movement towards the Suwalki gap from Belarus. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed concern over this development, as Russian-allied forces increase their presence near the NATO border.
Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jablonski also warned of possible future provocations from Belarusian and Russian forces.
It’s important to note that Belarus’s role in aiding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has strengthened ties between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. This background adds complexity to the current situation and raises concerns about potential further developments in the region.