Are Polish politicians right about the Wagner threat? Expert: We would them “evaporate” at once

Polish soldiers
Polish soldiers. Reuters/Scanpix

Polish politicians are increasingly vocal in their warnings about the movement of the Wagner group on Belarusian territory and the resulting risks. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda says there is currently no information about possible provocations by Wagner mercenaries on our border, Enrika Gecaitė is writing at the news portal.

However, according to the Head of State, we are ready to face any incidents.

Military expert Darius Antanaitis does not rule out the possibility of incidents.

However, he sees no reason why the Wagner group should provoke or otherwise intimidate Lithuania because, according to the expert, even without the help of our allies, our army would “evaporate” this terrorist organisation from the country quickly enough.

Poles see a threat

On Saturday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Poland has information that more than 100 Wagner mercenaries have allegedly moved towards the Suwalki corridor near Grodno. This, Morawiecki said, makes the situation more dangerous.

According to him, “this is definitely a step in the direction of a further hybrid attack on Polish territory”. The Polish Prime Minister speculated that the group’s mercenaries could be disguised as Belarusian border guards and could be helping illegal immigrants to enter Polish territory in an attempt to destabilise the situation.

Among other things, Maciej Wąsik, Poland’s Deputy Minister of the Interior and Administration, stated that the Wagner group is bigger than the Lithuanian army.

“They are not dangerous, yes? That’s why Putin’s people dug up the roads when they were on their way to Moscow. “The Wagner group is bigger than the Lithuanian army. They came to Belarus for a purpose. And they are too expensive to help with the harvest. They will not help to harvest. Mr Lukashenko wants to use them.

This scenario will be more or less dangerous for Poland and other neighbours. We do not know what this scenario is, so we have to monitor this process very closely”, stressed Mr Wąsik.

Lithuanian President Nausėda also pointed out that the threat of provocations to Lithuania due to the presence of Wagner in Belarus is serious.

“It is too great a temptation not to use our presence here, close to our border, for various provocations. That is why I think the threat is serious,” the head of state said.

The Wagner mercenaries, who have arrived in Belarus, are currently conducting exercises with the national army at the Brest training ground, 40 km from the Ukrainian and 30 km from the Polish borders.

Call to look beyond the weak

“Military expert D. Antanaitis is not inclined to dramatise the “excursion” of the Wagner mercenary group through the territory of Belarus. According to him, the first thing to do is to understand why this terrorist organisation is there in the first place.

“A group of a hundred Wagner terrorists (we cannot call the members of their group soldiers, as it is recognised as a terrorist organisation in Lithuania and they cannot be soldiers according to the Geneva Convention) is wandering around Belarusian territory, so I wonder where they are.

On the military side, they cannot do any minimal damage. We need to remember why the Wagner organisation is in Belarus. It is there because it was a threat to the Putin regime. That is all. That is the starting position.

Anything else is just creating an alternative reality that Wagner is there because of the Suwałki corridor, because of Poland and so on. The real reality is that Wagner – a terrorist group – is there because of the rebellion against Putin,” Antanaitis explained on the “Lietuvos rytas” TV programme “Nauja diena” (New Day).

According to the expert, we tend to look at threats from the position of the weak, which is wrong.

“We often look at things from the position of the weak, but we are much stronger than both Russia and Belarus, and they are stronger than Belarus put together. We need to be realistic all the time. However, the war is not between Russia and Poland, not between Russia and Lithuania, not between Russia and Latvia, which, let us not forget, also shares a border.

The war is being fought in Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia. Its biggest headache now is the war in Ukraine, not being distracted somewhere with its criminals along the borders of Latvia, Lithuania or Poland. What is the aim? What do you want to achieve? To launch an attack on Lithuania, Latvia or Poland?

Then you are starting a war against 31 NATO countries. It is not against one Lithuania”, he said.

“They must know that”

Antanaitis is convinced that even if Wagner’s mercenaries dare to cross the Lithuanian border, our army, even without the help of allies armed with heavy equipment on our soil, would “vaporise” the Wagner terrorist organisation soon enough.

“Therefore, let’s keep a pragmatic and cold attitude at all times”, urged the military expert.

Although he did not rule out the possibility that Wagner’s mercenaries could theoretically stage a provocation at the border, Antanaitis said that from a practical point of view, he doubted it: “Physically, they could run through the border, but whether it would be a single plan or a grandiose plan, I am very doubtful about grandiose plans and conspiracy theories.”

The expert also responded by talking that Lithuania should follow Poland’s example. A few weeks ago, the Polish leadership decided to move military formations from the west to the east.

“The Lithuanian army, or the NATO army, is located a few tens of kilometres away from Belarus. Not Wagner is a hundred kilometres from the Lithuanian border, but the Lithuanian and NATO troops are tens of kilometres from the border with Belarus.

And they need to know that,” he pointed out.
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