Poland to set up military task force near Belarus border
The Polish Ministry of Defence (MoD) will establish a military task force for training and defence purposes near its border with Belarus, the defence minister has said.
Mariusz Błaszczak made the announcement on Saturday when he visited Jaryłówka in the Podlaskie province, where a temporary camp for Polish troops is positioned on the border with Belarus.
"There is no doubt the Polish border is under threat. We are witnessing an ongoing pressure on the Polish border, attempts by migrants to cross the border illegally, encouraged by the Belarusian regime... cooperating with the Kremlin... in order to destabilise our country," Błaszczak argued.
He said that Poland was deploying around 4,000 troops to support the Border Guard in an effort to seal the border with Belarus as part of the operation codenamed 'Gryf.'
"But I also decided to set up a military task force as part of the operation codenamed 'Rengaw' near the border with Belarus," Błaszczak announced.
"The nature of this military task force is of a training and defence character," he added.
The aim of the operation is to train the Polish Army soldiers in the Podlaskie province, near the border, as well as "to constitute reserves in the event of a deterioration of the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border," Błaszczak said.
"Let's remember this when we hear Kremlin propaganda that the Polish Army is being built-up at the border with Belarus. It is indeed being built-up, but in order to deter the aggressor, strengthen the border and ensure security," he added.
On Thursday, Polish MoD said it will ultimately increase the presence of troops on the Polish-Belarusian border to 10,000 soldiers, with 4,000 of them to support the Border Guard, and the remaining 6,000 to be on stand-by.
There are already around 2,000 troops stationed on the border along with hundreds of police and Border Guard officers.
Increasing the number of troops on the border with Belarus is due to growing tensions in the area, first caused by a wave of migrants trying to cross into Poland from Belarus, and more recently by a spate of attacks with stones, bricks and other projectiles from the Belarusian side against Polish officers patrolling the area. Poland has also been concerned about the presence of the Russia-linked Wagner mercenaries in Belarus and a Polish airspace violation incident by Belarusian helicopters.
There are also mounting fears that the Belarusian authorities could try to push migrants across the frontier once again in a repeat of the 2021 migration crisis that saw hundreds of people trying to force their way into Poland.