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Minsk Refuses NATO States’ Demand to Remove Wagner Fighters on Brink of Wargames

Belarus has refused to comply with Poland and the Baltic States’ (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) demand to expel Wagner Group fighters from its territory. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko called the demand “unreasonable and foolish” and criticized the military formations being amassed at the border. Wagner Group fighters from Russia have arrived in Belarus to train Belarusian army units near the Polish border. Poland and the Baltic States claim that the presence of Wagner Group in Belarus poses a threat to Poland and NATO’s eastern flank. In response, they demanded the immediate removal of the fighters and the return of migrants from border areas. Border tensions have increased since the arrival of Wagner fighters, with Poland deploying troops and Latvia and Lithuania strengthening their presence along their borders with Belarus. The US State Department has advised US citizens to leave Belarus immediately due to the escalating tensions. Belarus and Russia, bound by a defensive treaty, argue that the Polish buildup suggests aggressive actions, while Russia has warned that an attack on Belarus would be seen as an attack on Russia. Belarus has also claimed to already have Russian nuclear weapons in the country and has received Iskander missile systems. Joint military exercises involving CSTO member states, including Belarus and Russia, are set to begin, with the Belarusian government inviting Poland and Lithuania to observe.

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