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Poland Denies Military Helicopter Breached Belarus Airspace

Relations between Minsk and Warsaw, frozen for years, have hit new lows since Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko allowed Moscow to use his country to attack Ukraine.

Warsaw, Poland: Poland on Friday denied a military helicopter had breached Belarus’s airspace, calling Minsk’s claims “lies and provocations” at a time of escalating tensions between the neighbours.

Relations between Minsk and Warsaw, frozen for years, have hit new lows since Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko allowed Moscow to use his country to attack Ukraine.

Belarus said the incident took place over the Grodno region on the border, which stretches for roughly 400 kilometres (about 250 miles).

“These are lies and provocations from the Belarusian side,” said Jacek Goryszewski, spokesman for the operational command of Poland’s armed forces.

“There was definitely no such violation. That is according to the pilot’s dispatches and the radar system records,” he told AFP.

The Belarusian Border Service published the claims on Telegram along with a video purportedly showing a helicopter flying across the border.

“A Polish military helicopter Mi-24 crossed the state border at an extremely low altitude, flew up to 1,200 metres (4,000 feet) into the territory of Belarus and then turned back,” it said.

The Belarusian foreign ministry said it summoned the Polish charge d’affaires and that “the Polish side was required to provide appropriate explanations and conduct a thorough investigation”.

Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said “it is possible that this is a Belarusian provocation, which would be completely natural.”

“We will analyse the situation. However statements from the Belarusian side must be taken with extreme caution,” he told Polsat News television.

There have been renewed tensions between the two countries, particularly since Russian Wagner mercenary fighters moved to Belarus after a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s army in June.

Last week Poland and the Baltic states demanded that Belarus expel Wagner fighters.

Lukashenko said the requests were “stupid” and accused the countries of “whipping up hysteria about the presence of Wagner private military employees on our territory.”

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