WARSAW, Poland (AP) — NATO members Poland and the Baltic states will seal off their borders with Russia’s ally Belarus in the event of any military incidents or a massive migrant push by Minsk, the interior ministers warned Monday.
The ministers said they were seeing growing tensions on NATO’s and the European Union’s borders with Belarus, which has taken in thousands of Russia’s military mercenaries and is pushing Middle East and African migrants into Europe, despite barriers having been put up.
They warned of swift and concerted reaction in the case of a military incident or large migrant push.
The ministers of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia addressed the media following their talks. In a joint statement they demanded that the government of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko immediately remove from its territory the Wagner Group mercenaries. They also demanded the removal of migrants from border areas and their return to their home countries.
The four countries, which are also European Union members, s upport Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion.
The sudden death of mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash in Russia last week has raised questions about the future of the Wagner group, which Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski branded as “extremely dangerous” and “demoralized.” He also said the mercenaries pose a threat to the citizens of Belarus and the entire region.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state, according to a decree published on the Kremlin’s website late Friday and effective immediately.
The ministers held talks about joint ways of reacting to the increasingly difficult situation on their borders with Belarus and Russia.