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Putin Warns Poland About Non-Existent Threats to Invade Belarus

Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

With the arrival of Wagner Group forces in Belarus, Poland decided it would be prudent to reposition some of its forces closer to the Belarusian border. But in so doing, it roused the ire of Vladimir Putin. The Russian president issued a stark warning to Poland that any attack on Belarus will be considered an attack on Russia.

This was a direct threat to a NATO country.

“Aggression against Belarus will mean aggression against the Russian Federation,” Putin told a televised Security Council meeting on Friday, shown by Reuters. “We will respond to it with all means at our disposal,” he said.

In addition, Putin hosted Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg. Lukashenko casually mentioned that the Wagner troops “stressed” him because they wanted to go on an “excursion” to Poland.

“I tell them, why do you need to go to the West? Well, to go on a tour to Warsaw, to Rzeszow,” Lukashenko told Putin in their first meeting since the Wagner group nearly reached Moscow in their “march of justice” against the Russian Defense Ministry’s leadership.

“I keep them in the center of Belarus, as agreed. I would not like to relocate them there, because their mood is bad,” he added.

Politico:

Putin said that Poland appears to have interests in retaking eastern territories it lost to former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin, including “a good chunk of Ukraine … to take back the historic lands.” He added that “it’s well known that they dream of Belarusian lands as well.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hit back later on Friday, tweeting that “Stalin was a war criminal, guilty of the death of hundreds of thousands of Poles.” He said that the ambassador of the Russian Federation will be summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Lukashenko claimed in his meeting with Putin that the “dismemberment of Ukraine” and the transfer of its lands to Poland are unacceptable — as if that were part of the plan.

“We saw it six months ago. We discussed this before. This is unacceptable to us. The alienation of western Ukraine, the dismemberment of Ukraine, and the transfer of its lands to Poland are unacceptable. Should people in Western Ukraine ask us then we will provide support to them. I ask you to discuss and think about this issue.”

Putin may be a blackheart and a murderous thug, but, like Hitler, he’s got an unerring sense of the jugular. Putin’s threat brought immediate counter-threats from other NATO countries.

Morawiecki summoned the Russian ambassador to Poland to complain about Putin’s saber-rattling, In truth, it was nothing new, and Poland is used to it by now.

Morawiecki’s defense minister defended the relocation of troops on Friday, pointing to reports that the Wagner mercenaries were carrying out training exercises with the Belarusian army.

“Training or joint exercises of the Belarusian army and the Wagner group are undoubtedly a provocation,” said Zbigniew Hoffmann, secretary of the government’s National Security Committee, according to a report by Polish state-run news agency PAP.

Poland is in no real danger from Moscow or Belarus for that matter. Neither Putin nor Lukashenko wants to take on NATO. But Putin has become an expert at stirring the pot in Eastern Europe and beyond — sometimes with unintended consequences.

Bulgaria, meanwhile, has agreed to provide Ukraine with some 100 armored personnel carriers, marking a U-turn in the NATO member’s policy on sending military equipment to Kyiv following the appointment of a new, pro-Western government. The parliament in Sofia late Friday approved the administration’s proposal to make the first shipment of heavy military equipment to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, the AP reported.

The armored vehicles are old, and the sale should be seen as something more symbolic than any drastic change in policy. After all, Bulgaria was one of the old Soviet Union’s most trusted and loyal allies.

Poland wouldn’t mind seeing Washington and Moscow nose-to-nose over Poland’s security. But if World War III starts, it won’t be over Poland. But over Ukraine? That’s another story.

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