Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Poland that any attack on Belarus will be considered an attack on Russia, in a direct threat to the NATO country televised on Friday.

“Aggression against Belarus will mean aggression against the Russian Federation,” Putin said Friday during a televised meeting of the Security Council, broadcast by Reuters. “We will respond with all the means at our disposal,” he said.

Putin appeared to be responding to Warsaw’s decision this week to reposition military units in the east of the country, closer to the Belarusian border, following the Russian ally’s welcome of mercenary fighters Wagner.

Putin said Poland appears to have an interest in reclaiming the eastern territories it lost to former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin, including “a good part of Ukraine…to take back historic lands.” He added that “it is well known that they also dream of Belarusian lands”.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hit back later Friday, tweeting that “Stalin was a war criminal, guilty of killing hundreds of thousands of Poles.” He said that the Ambassador of the Russian Federation will be summoned to the Foreign Ministry.

Defense Minister Morawiecki on Friday defended the troop movement, pointing to reports that Wagner’s mercenaries were carrying out training exercises with the Belarusian army.

“Joint training or exercises by the Belarusian army and the Wagner Group are undoubtedly a provocation,” said Zbigniew Hoffmann, secretary of the government’s National Security Committee, according to a report by Poland’s official PAP news agency.

Belarus has been Russia’s ally throughout Putin’s war against Ukraine. In addition to hosting the Wagner Group following an insurrection on Moscow led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko allowed Putin to station tactical nuclear weapons on his territory.

Germany has said Berlin and NATO stand ready to support Poland in defending the eastern border, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Friday, according to Reuters.

Separately, a drone attack on an ammunition depot in Crimea caused an evacuation and a brief suspension of road traffic on the bridge connecting the peninsula to Russia, Reuters reported. Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-based regional governor, said on Saturday there was an explosion at the Krasnohvardiiske depot in central Crimea, but reported no damage or casualties, according to the report.

The brief disruption to traffic on the Crimean Bridge came five days after explosions there killed two people and damaged a section of the roadway – the second major attack on the bridge since the start of the war.

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Source : byobwebsite