Poland accuses Belarusian helicopters of airspace violation

Anna Zvereva / Wikimedia Commons

Poland claimed that two Belarusian helicopters violated its airspace near the border.  

The two helicopters in question were identified as a Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter and an Mi-8 transport helicopter.  

The incident occurred in the Bialowieza region, with the Polish Ministry of Defense reporting that the helicopters flew at an unusually low altitude, making radar detection complicated.  

Responding to the alleged violation, the Polish ministry announced that it would bolster its military presence on the border with Belarus. Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Belarusian diplomacy to discuss the matter.  

“Undoubtedly, these are provocative actions aimed at NATO’s eastern flank and Poland,” Polish Deputy Defense Minister Wojciech Skurkiewicz said, quoted by Defence24. “Of course, we informed the NATO headquarters about this incident. Yesterday, a meeting of the security committee was held.” 

Belarus, however, denied any breach of Polish airspace. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense dismissed the accusations “were made by the Polish army and political leaders to justify once again the increase in forces and means near the Belarusian border.” 

Tensions at the border between Poland and Belarus have recently increased since the Wagner group redeployed part of its troops from Russia to Tsel, central Belarys, following a failed coup. On July 20, 2023, Belarusian authorities announced that the fighters of the paramilitary group would train Belarusian special forces at Bretsky training ground, less than 5 kilometers from the border with Poland. 

Belarusian helicopters were already at the center of a border incident when in August 2020, Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters were scrambled to shoot down white and red balloons released during a demonstration in Lithuania supporting the anti-regime protests in Belarus. The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the helicopters breached Lithuania’s airspace near Medininkai and handed a protest note to the Belarusian ambassador. 

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