A breach of Polish airspace by two Belarusian military helicopters on Tuesday was a provocation aimed at Poland and the eastern flank of Nato, a Polish deputy defence minister has said.
The flights of Belarusian helicopters over the Bialowieza area near the Polish-Belarusian border were first reported on Tuesday morning by private radio broadcaster RMF FM.
Speaking on public radio on Wednesday morning, Wojciech Skurkiewicz said Warsaw had informed Nato HQ of the incident and that a sitting of Poland’s Committee for National Security and Defence Affairs had been convened on Tuesday.
As a result of that meeting, Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak increased the number of troops on the country’s border with Belarus and reinforced the assets deployed there, including additional military helicopters.
The Polish government absolutely does not consent to such provocations, Skurkiewicz said.
“These are situations that absolutely should not occur, but we realise who we have as an opponent beyond our eastern border…,” he said. “It is absolutely unsafe. If such situations are going to take place and will escalate, then our actions will be appropriate to the potential threats.”
Polish-Belarusian relations have been at their lowest point in decades after the Alexander Lukashenko regime targeted the Polish minority in Belarus following a presidential election won by Lukashenko in 2020 that the West regards as rigged. Belarus, a close ally of Russia, has also tried to put pressure on Poland by inviting thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants and encouraging them to cross the border into Poland under a false promise of easy access to the EU.