The interests of Belarus, Wagner, and Russia have already been served, which is why none of those three has any motivation to escalate the situation with Poland, but the Polish leadership might think that it could gain even more than it already has if border tensions become just a little bit worse.
Belarus’ recently announced decision to host drills with Wagner near the Polish border was met with Warsaw redeploying some of its troops towards that frontier, which prompted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to express concern about what he described as “The aggressiveness of Poland”. The latest Polish-Belarusian border tensions come just days after the Daily Mail pushed the fake news alleging that Russia plans to order those fighters to invade the Suwalki Corridor.
As cynical as it may sound, these latest developments actually advance all parties’ interests. Lukashenko warned about the scenario of Belgorod-like proxy incursions earlier this summer, which is why Belarus wants to strengthen its Hybrid War defenses by learning from Wagner’s world-class experience. As for that group, they’re able to rehabilitate their reputation after last month’s failed coup attempt by protecting their Union State’s “little brother”, which can redeem them in the eyes of the Russian people.
Poland and Russia, meanwhile, have similar interests vis-a-vis each other. The first wants to hype up the “Russian threat” for the dual purposes of presenting itself as the US’ top NATO ally as well as rallying the ruling party’s nationalist base ahead of fall’s elections, while the second wants to reinforce the fact that the Union State is under a state of siege by drawing attention to Poland’s latest buildup. The difference between them, however, is that Poland is manipulating perceptions while Russia is reflecting reality.
Be that as it may, all parties’ interests are arguably advanced by the latest Polish-Belarusian border tensions, though it should also be remembered that the latter carry with them the risk of a war breaking out by miscalculation. Belarus and Wagner are strictly remaining within the Union State when carrying out their drills, but Poland might gamble that some sort of provocation is worth sparking for the previously mentioned purposes as well as to distract from the failure of Kiev’s counteroffensive.
Poland is a NATO state under Article 5 mutual defense guarantees that are widely interpreted in the context of that country’s security as morally obligating fellow members to use armed force in its support, while Belarus has similar such guarantees from Russia via the CSTO. Polish-Belarusian border tensions, whether these latest or possibly forthcoming ones, could therefore lead to a global crisis that threatens to turn the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine into a direct all-out conflict if something serious happens.
The interests of Belarus, Wagner, and Russia have already been served, which is why none of those three has any motivation to escalate the situation with Poland, but the Polish leadership might think that it could gain even more than it already has if border tensions become just a little bit worse. That’s not to say that they’ll definitely provoke an incident, but just that observers shouldn’t be surprised if that happens. Hopefully Poland realizes that everyone stands to lose if that scenario spirals out of control.