US expresses support for Warsaw as tensions flare between Poland, Belarus
US defense secretary, Polish defense minister discuss Poland’s response to Aug. 1 incursion into Polish airspace by Belarusian helicopters
By Firdevs Bulut Kartal
TORONTO (AA) - The US expressed support Friday for Poland's response to an incursion into Polish airspace earlier this month by two Belarusian helicopters.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, according to a statement by the Pentagon.
"Secretary Austin emphasized U.S. support for Poland’s response to the August 1 incursion into Polish airspace by Belarusian aircraft," it said.
The two leaders also discussed the Russian Wagner Group’s new presence in Belarus and committed to continue monitoring the situation closely.
Austin thanked Błaszczak for Poland’s vital efforts to support Ukraine, and the two men reiterated the significance of continued robust security assistance to the Ukrainian people.
- Polish airspace violation
On Friday, the Polish Foreign Ministry called on Belarus to explain the violation of Poland's airspace by helicopters earlier this week.
"We call on Belarus to urgently explain this incident, correct its stance, and stop provocations along the Polish border," the ministry said in a statement.
Polish Deputy Defense Minister Wojciech Skurkiewicz on Wednesday described the violation as a provocation.
According to reports, the helicopters were spotted flying over the Bialowieza area near the Polish-Belarusian border on Aug. 1, prompting the Polish Foreign Ministry to issue a strong protest.
Poland informed NATO of the violation and Błaszczak decided to increase the number of troops and military assets at the border, including helicopters.
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