There is no evidence the Russian outfit endangers any NATO member, the US has said
The US does not regard the presence of Wagner Group fighters in Belarus as a threat to Poland or any other NATO member, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.
“We are not aware of any specific threat from Wagner against Poland or any other of our NATO allies,” Kirby said, noting the US is “closely monitoring” the situation.
“Of course, we are committed to Article 5 and, as the president stated, to protecting every inch of NATO territory. But, again, there is no evidence that Wagner poses such a threat to the alliance,” he added, referencing the mutual aid clause of the NATO charter.
His comments come shortly after Poland announced the deployment of 1,000 troops to the border with Belarus, citing reports of a Wagner presence near the so-called Suwalki Gap. In a speech on Saturday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki claimed the arrival of “more than a hundred” Wagnerites in Grodno was “undoubtedly a step towards an upcoming hybrid attack on Polish territory.”
Warsaw has also announced it would nearly double the size of Poland’s military, from 172,000 to 300,000 troops. The deputy marshal of the Polish Senate, Michal Kaminski, told Ukrainian media on Monday that any Wagnerites who invade Poland will have to deal with American troops and will be sent back “in coffins.”
A failed mutiny at the end of June saw Wagner turn its guns on the Russian military. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko helped broker a deal under which the private military company would stand down.
According to Kirby, the US believes “some” Wagner members have since moved to Africa, “some are probably still in Ukraine,” and “of course, we believe that some have moved to Belarus.”
Neither Minsk nor Wagner has any plans to attack Poland, Lukashenko said on Tuesday while visiting an agricultural commune near the Polish border. “I’ve heard Poland has recently gone mad over a unit of as many as 100 people moving somewhere here,” he told reporters.
Lukashenko denied that any Wagner unit was actually deployed in Grodno or Brest. He said his comments last month, about Wagnerites wanting to “go on tour” in Warsaw, were merely a tongue-in-cheek reference to Poland serving as a major hub for the NATO effort to supply Ukraine with weapons and ammunition