Poland to move soldiers to the east of the country due to Wagner-PAP risks

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s security committee decided at a meeting on Wednesday to move military units to the east of the country due to the Wagner Group’s presence in Belarus, the official PAP news agency quoted its secretary as saying on Friday.

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was shown in a video on Wednesday welcoming his fighters to Belarus, telling them they would no longer take part in the Ukraine war for now but ordering them to muster their forces for Africa while they train the Belarusian army.

On Thursday, the Belarusian Defense Ministry said Wagner mercenaries had started training Belarusian special forces at a military firing range a few kilometers from the border with NATO member Poland.

“The joint training or exercises of the Belarusian army and the Wagner group are undoubtedly a provocation,” Zbigniew Hoffmann told PAP.

“The Committee analyzed possible threats, such as the dislocation of units of the Wagner Group. Therefore, the Minister of National Defense, Chairman of the Committee, Mariusz Blaszczak, decided to move our military formations from western to eastern Poland.”

People living near the Polish-Belarusian border said on Thursday they could hear gunfire and helicopters after the Russian group Wagner arrived to train Belarusian special forces, heightening their fears that the war in Ukraine could reach them.

Defense Minister Blasczak said earlier this month that Poland had started moving more than 1,000 troops to the east of the country.

Also at the beginning of July, Poland announced that it would send 500 police officers to reinforce security at the border with Belarus.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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