Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned on Saturday that the Wagner Group could be planning a “hybrid attack” against his country after the paramilitary organization moved more than 100 troops near the Suwałki Gap.
Tensions between Poland and the Wagner Group have grown in recent weeks amid growing concerns about a looming invasion that began after the organization, which for months fought alongside Russian troops in the invasion of Ukraine, was expelled to Belarus following an attempted mutiny against military leadership in Moscow over its floundering invasion of the Eastern European country.
The Wagner Group’s presence in Belarus has fueled concerns that it could invade Poland to seize control of the Suwałki Gap, a small but critical corridor located along Poland’s northeastern border that separates Russia from the exclave Kaliningrad. Should the Wagner Group and Russia take control over the gap, they would isolate the Baltic states from the rest of Europe, potentially allowing Moscow to exert greater influence over these nations.
Morawiecki said on Saturday that Polish intelligence suggested that more than 100 Wagner troops had been moved toward the border, warning that the situation is becoming even more dangerous, according to a report from Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda.
“This is definitely a step towards a further hybrid attack on Polish territory,” Morawiecki said. “They are likely to be disguised as Belarusian border guards and will help illegal immigrants enter Polish territory, destabilize Poland, but they are also likely to try to enter Polish territory posing as illegal immigrants, which creates additional risks.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State told Newsweek in a statement on Saturday that officials are aware that some Wagner fighters are in Belarus and are monitoring the situation. The spokesperson added that the United States remains committed to defending every inch of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) territory.
Poland is a member state of NATO, meaning any attack against it would be treated as an attack against the entire military alliance, per Article 5 of its founding treaty. This means it would likely draw a military response from the U.S. and much of Europe.
“The arrival of Prigozhin and Wagner forces in Belarus is another example of Lukashenka ceding further control and decision making to the Kremlin, contrary to the interests and wishes of the Belarusian people,” the Department of State said in its statement. “We continue to look closely at the actions Wagner forces take that are against the interests of the countries where they operate, and we will continue to take actions to hold them accountable.”
Meanwhile, Olga Skabeyeva, host of Russian state TV’s 60 Minutes, also suggested during a recent program that the Wagner Group could attack Poland.
“Pro-Western monitoring groups report that the 12th convoy of Wagner PMC has already arrived in Belarus. According to them, the new convoy includes at least 50 vehicles: armored vehicles, buses, trucks, pickup trucks, petrol tankers and even an excavator. The last one, probably, will be needed to tear down the fence, which Warsaw has built on the Belarusian Polish border,” she said.