MOSCOW: Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko said Friday he had ordered “contact” with Poland and that he was ready to talk amid rising border tensions between the NATO member and Moscow ally.
Last week, Poland said two Belarusian helicopters violated its airspace and detained a Belarusian man on suspicion of being part of a “Russian spy ring.”
Relations between Minsk and Warsaw, frozen for years, have hit new lows since Lukashenko allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to attack Ukraine.
Tensions further escalated when Minsk became a new base for fighters from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, with Poland saying this was a security threat and strengthening border defence.
“We need to talk to the Poles. I ordered the prime minister to contact them,” Lukashenko said, according to state news agency Belta.
“We are neighbours and you don’t chose our neighbours.”
The unusual comment came a day after Warsaw announced it would send 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus.
“They have parliamentary elections on October 15, of course they need to escalate the situation… to show that they have properly armed (Poland),” Lukashenko said.
The EU member has warned of “provocations” involving the Wagner group, which Lukashenko is hosting after their failed mutiny in Russia.
While on a trip to Saint Petersburg last month, Lukashenko sitting next to Putin, joked that Wagner fighters are “asking to go West, ask for permission… to go on a trip to Warsaw, to Rzeszow.”
Poland has become a hub for thousands of Belarusians who have fled their homeland, ruled by Lukashenko since 1994.