Wagner people disguised as migrants in Poland? No evidence of Lukashenko’s threat

Wagner mercenaries allegedly come to Poland disguised as migrants, according to social media. The Polish news channel Polsat News is said to have reported on it. But is that really true? A Deutsche Welle fact check.

Frightening Poland – that was apparently the last aim of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin: At a meeting between the two on July 21 in St. Petersburg, Lukashenko explained that the mercenaries of the Russian Wagner Group housed in his country “wanted to take a trip to Warsaw and Rzeshow”.

Polish politicians and the Polish media reacted promptly – and the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also commented on the Wagner group, which may be on its way to the Polish border.

He has information that more than a hundred Wagner Group mercenaries were advancing in the direction of the Suwalki Gap, that is, the section of the border between Lithuania and Poland that stretches from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to Belarus.

Meanwhile, allegations are circulating online that the Wagner mercenaries are already coming to Poland almost unnoticed.

Do Wagner mercenaries really penetrate Poland disguised as migrants?

Claim: “Wagnerites are entering Poland under the guise of migrants,” claim several users on Twitter, for example in German and English. They refer to the Polish broadcaster Polsat News, which reported on it. “It is certain that illegal immigrants from Belarus, who are in fact fighters of the PMC Wagner, are entering the country,” adds one of the users.

Deutsche Welle fact check: unoccupied

The tweets refer to an interview he gave to Polish broadcaster Polsat News on July 28 with Belarusian opposition politician Pawel Latuschka, who lives in exile in Warsaw. But in it he does not speak as a fact of the fact that Wagner mercenaries from Belarus are invading Poland “under the guise of migrants”. He’s just making assumptions.

In an interview, he says that there could already be several thousand Wagner mercenaries in Belarus – and adds that one could imagine “that Lukashenko’s and Putin’s plans could be to direct Wagner mercenaries disguised as migrants and direct a local to provoke a conflict on the border of a NATO country”. So he’s talking about it purely hypothetically.

Latuschka’s press team confirmed this in writing to Deutsche Welle: “Mr. Latuschka did not claim that Wagner mercenaries entered Poland ‘disguised as migrants’. There is no evidence of that.”

Morawiecki also commented on alleged Wagner mercenaries disguised as migrants

The Polish Prime Minister took up the issue on July 29 during a visit to an armaments factory in Gliwice. He made two assumptions about the Wagner mercenaries in Belarus. For one thing, Morawiecki said, “Presumably they will also try to invade Poland by posing as illegal immigrants.” Second, the Wagner mercenaries would “probably” disguise themselves as Belarusian border guards and “help illegal immigrants enter Polish territory to destabilize Poland”.

These claims are only conjectures about the future, without any supporting evidence. The right-wing populist ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) repeatedly attracts attention with anti-migrant claims.

Meanwhile, political experts say Russia’s and Belarus’ threats against Poland are staged. With its threats against the NATO state, Russia is trying to reduce support for Ukraine.

“In autumn there will be parliamentary elections in Poland. Both Putin and Lukashenko try to influence them, including with threats, so that voters swing in the ‘right’ direction,” says Ryhor Nizhnikau, senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute on International Affairs, in an interview with Deutsche Welle. So the goal is to move away from Poland’s role in the war “to prevent a third world war,” explains Nizhnikau.

Hank Peter

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