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Wagner fighters could be used to destabilise Poland says deputy minister

Poland is ready for Wagner mercenaries to be used to destabilise Poland ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election, a deputy interior minister has said.

In an interview with state-owned broadcaster TVP1 on Wednesday, Maciej Wasik referred to the presence of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group in Belarus and said that the number of the fighters located there is “closer to 3,000 than 10,000”.

“We take into account the fact that the Wagner fighters will be used for such things as destabilising Poland during the election,” Wasik said.

Poland is to hold the parliamentary ballot this autumn, but the exact date is yet to be announced by the president.

Wasik said that Poland must take into account the worst-case scenario, i.e. that the mercenaries will be used to destabilise the Polish border.

“Hence the reinforcements on the Polish border,” he said. “Hence the armed forces that may be deployed there in larger numbers.”

According to Wasik, some Wagner troops may actually be training the Belarusian army, but their presence could be an opportunity to move them closer to the Polish border. “No one knows exactly why the Wagner fighters came to Belarus,” he said.

The Wagner Group has been building up its presence in Belarus after a failed mutiny against the Russian authorities in late June as Belarusian strongman President Alexander Lukashenko mediated between the Wagner Group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Following the negotiations, Lukashenko decided to offer a safe haven in Belarus to Prigozhin and his mercenaries. 

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