Russia may be baiting Poland to launch a pre-emptive strike against Belarus, a geopolitical expert told Daily Express US.
The comments come as Poland plans to rush 10,0000 troops to its border with Belarus as tensions in the region approach a boiling point.
The troop movements come amid huge military exercises carried out inside Belarus while a large contingent of Wagner mercenaries is believed to be in the country.
Kervin AuCoin, a geopolitical analyst who spent time in Poland consulting on the establishment of a US base there, told Daily Express US that Minsk could be attempting to provoke the NATO member by sparking a border crisis using migrants.
“A comprehensive analysis of the situation suggests that Russia is leveraging its relationship with Belarus to provoke tensions with Poland, seemingly with the intent of engineering a situation that prompts Poland to take pre-emptive action,” the CEO of the private intelligence company AuCoin Analytics said.
For all the latest on news, politics, sports, and showbiz from the USA, go to Daily Express US
He added: “The prevailing theory is that Belarus will use a migrant crisis to provoke Poland, and then allow Wagner forces to defend the Belarus border causing a need for Russia to intervene.”
If Poland struck first, it could give Russia an excuse to “defend” Belarus and paint any response by NATO as “an infringement upon Russia’s national sovereignty”, AuCoin said.
Warsaw claims that Belarus has been sending migrants from the Middle East and Africa into Poland since at least 2021 in what it has dubbed “hybrid warfare”. Recently, Minsk extended visa-free travel to a music festival held in the country last month.
“The catalyst for this situation derives from Belarus’s decision to extend visa-free access to a recent music festival, a seemingly innocuous move that, in effect, facilitated the ingress of travellers from conflict-ridden nations into Belarus,” Mr AuCoin claimed.
In addition, Poland has voiced concerns that Wagner fighters disguised as migrants could enter the country and carry out covert operations there.
Warsaw is on high alert after two Belarusian helicopters violated its airspace earlier this month.
The provocative move was likely an attempt to gauge Poland’s response and set up the conditions for a future Polish response, according to Mr AuCoin.
Belarus has denied its aircraft had entered Polish airspace describing the accusation as an “old wives tale” but photos from residents in the Polish town of Bielowieza appear to clearly show the Belarusian helicopters.
The area which borders Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad is particularly sensitive for NATO.
The sparsely populated 60-mile Suwalki Gap links Belarus and Kaliningrad – Russia’s heavily fortified Baltic outpost.
An attack here would effectively cut the Baltic states from the rest of NATO leaving the small countries to defend against Russia on their own.
“The Suwałki Gap epitomizes a geographical bottleneck and potential Achilles’ heel in NATO’s eastern flank.” Mr AuCoin said of the region.
If Russia were to attack NATO, it would almost certainly try to close the gap and cripple the alliance’s northeastern front.
Follow our social media accounts here on http://facebook.com/ExpressUSNews and ExpressUSNews