Belarusian helicopters in Polish airspace?
According to Polish reports, two military helicopters from neighbouring Belarus violated Polish airspace on Tuesday. Warsaw sees this as a deliberate provocation. The Belarusian defence ministry has rejected the accusations, saying that Poland is using them as a pretext to militarise the border. Commentators see a dangerous spiral of escalation.
More air defence and Nato coordination
Rzeczpospolita’s editor-in-chief Bogusław Chrabota demands to see consequences:
“What lessons have been learned here? First of all, Lukashenka, who likes to play the strongman and intermediary, has found a dirt cheap way to expose Nato’s weaknesses. After all, what kind of military alliance allows foreign military helicopters to leisurely cruise through its airspace? Secondly, we have been shown exactly what arms we need to invest in: surveillance systems and the defence of Polish airspace. Thirdly, more interaction and cooperation with Nato is essential, also when it comes to moving Nato equipment to our Eastern border.”
Signs of weakness towards Moscow
Ukrainska Pravda is astonished by Nato’s lukewarm reaction:
“The helicopters officially belong to the Belarusian army and bear its insignia, but the city from which the reaction to this incident is being observed is Moscow, not Minsk. And for Moscow it is important that this is not seen as a violation of the Polish border but of Nato’s protected and much-lauded ‘Eastern flank’, which is guaranteed by the US. ... The incident of 1 August, which failed to provoke an appropriate response, sends a clear signal to the Kremlin: it can continue to ramp up its operations without fear of retaliation. Nato and the US will not be more than ‘concerned’.”
The dangerous gap
Tensions are spreading from Poland to the Baltic, La Stampa warns:
“The Baltic states are already thinking about closing their borders, and Lithuanian border guards have begun training a special unit to counter the threat of the Prigozhin militia. ... Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will meet Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda in Suwałki, Poland, today. Here in the Suwałki Gap, which borders directly on the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, the two politicians will discuss the security situation of the border to Belarus and how to counter potential provocations.”
An embarrassment for the PiS
Gazeta Wyborcza sees major failings on the part of the Polish government:
“All this has happened at a time when the PiS government is warning of provocations from Belarus. ... At campaign rallies aimed at families, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke of a hundred Wagner Group mercenaries moving towards the strategic Suwałki Gap, the Polish-Lithuanian border area separating the Kalingrad region from Belarus. Morawiecki added that only the PiS is capable of protecting Poland from such a threat. One cannot help thinking that Lukashenka and his Russian patrons have decided to see if he’s right.”