Poland denied on Friday that one of its military helicopters had violated Belarusian airspace, calling the country’s claims “lies and provocations” at a time of tension between the two neighbors.
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“These are lies and provocations on the part of Belarus,” Jacek Goryszewski, spokesman for the Polish Armed Forces’ operational command, told AFP.
“There was no such violation. This is clear from the pilot reports and the radar system recordings,” he added.
“It is possible that this is a Belarusian provocation, which would be completely logical,” said Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski.
“We will analyze the situation. However, statements from the Belarusian side should be viewed with extreme caution,” Jablonski added on Polsat News television.
These reactions came after Belarus summoned the representative of Poland, a NATO member country, to Minsk on Friday and in the afternoon denounced the “unacceptable” violation of its airspace by a military helicopter.
“Belarusian diplomats drew the attention of the Polish side to the inadmissibility of this violation and called on Warsaw to take measures to exclude such incidents in the future,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“Poland’s charge d’affaires in Belarus has been summoned to the ministry,” he added in a press release.
On Telegram, Belarusian border guards claimed with supporting video that a “Polish Mi-24 military helicopter crossed the state border at a very low altitude at a depth of 1,200 meters before returning.”
The episode takes place against the backdrop of tensions between Minsk and its western neighbors.
Warsaw and the Baltic states on Monday called on Belarus to “immediately expel” the Wagner Group from their territory, which they consider a threat to their own security.
In a sign of alienation, Poland and Lithuania have erected fences along their borders with Belarus and Warsaw plans to deploy up to 10,000 soldiers there.
In response to Wagner’s presence, Lithuania closed two of the six border crossings with its pro-Russian neighbor on August 18.
Thousands of Wagner fighters traveled to Belarus in June after their failed uprising in Russia. With Minsk’s consent, they took part in particular in the training of local soldiers.
After the recent death of Wagner’s boss in a plane crash, Mr. Lukashenko said he wanted to keep up to 10,000 of the group’s fighters in his country.