Belarus and Poland teeter on the brink of confrontation
The previously positive dynamics of Belarusian-Polish relations in the sphere of regional security have deteriorated to such an extent that both sides see the other as a potential threat.
Poland is deploying new support facilities for the 18th Division of the First Warsaw Armoured Brigade (formed in 2018) near the Belarusian border.
Although these are planned developments and unconnected with current friction in bilateral political relations, such adverse dynamics risk a local “arms race” with each side escalating and reciprocating in response to the other’s actions.
Given the disparity in financial resources between Warsaw and Minsk, the threat of Kremlin “assistance” in the form of an expanding Russian military presence in Belarus is growing, and that would mean the final loss of Belarusian geopolitical autonomy.
In the meantime, Minsk responds with volleys of propaganda accusing Poland of glorifying war criminals. Unfortunately, Belarusian officials do not understand the neighbouring country, and what they intend as a propaganda exercise could further escalate the conflict in bilateral political relations. The Prosecutor General of Belarus, Andrei Shved, has equated the Polish Home Army with the Nazis and accused some activists from the Polish national minority in Belarus of neo-Nazi tendencies. Warsaw’s sensitivity regarding World War II history suggests that this is unlikely to go unanswered.
The Belarusian-Polish relations crisis provoked by the Belarusian regime since August 2020 threatens to escalate into a local “cold war” with both sides brandishing military capabilities. That creates a threat of Belarus becoming entangled in confrontations between Russia and other countries in the name of “alliance”, but contrary to Belarusian interests. Given the nature of Polish-Ukrainian security relations, further deterioration of Belarusian-Ukrainian ties will also be a practical certainty.