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Poland to boost troops on Belarusian border after airspace breach

Poland’s defence minister has ordered an increase in the number of soldiers on its border with Belarus after Belarusian helicopters entered Polish airspace.

The flights of Belarusian helicopters over the Białowieża area near the Polish-Belarusian border were reported on Tuesday morning private radio broadcaster RMF FM.

The spokesman for the Operational Command of the Polish Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Jacek Goryszewski, said in the afternoon that the Belarusian authorities had provided Poland with information that on Tuesday up to three helicopters might manoeuver in the border area.

But he added at the time that no violation of Polish airspace had been detected by radar systems.

Poland’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a press release, that in order to clarify the current situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak had convened a meeting of the Committee for National Security and Defence Affairs, which he chairs.

“After the commanders and security service chiefs presented the conclusions from the the situation analysis, it was established that today, August 1, 2023, there was a violation of Polish airspace by two Belarusian helicopters that were training near the border,” the MoD said.

As reported by the Polish MoD, Belarus had previously informed Poland about the training.

“The crossing of the border took place in the Białowieża area at a very low altitude, making it difficult to detect by radar systems. Therefore, in the earlier announcement, the Operational Command of the Armed Forces said that the Polish radar systems had not recorded any violation of Polish airspace,” MoD explained.

According to the statement, the defence minister ordered the number of soldiers to be increased and the allocation of additional resources, including combat helicopters, to the border with Belarus.

Nato was informed about the incident, the MoD said.

Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder, when asked about the incident at a press briefing, replied that he had nothing to announce about sending additional forces to Nato’s eastern flank, and referred reporters to the Polish Ministry of National Decence for details.

He said the Penatgon would continue to take Nato security very seriously and that the US will continue to work with its Nato allies to ensure that every square inch of Nato remains secure.

Earlier, during a daily briefing, Matthew Miller, spokesman for the US State Department, refused to comment on the matter, claiming that he had not seen the Polish Ministry of Defence’s statement but only unconfirmed morning reports.

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