Wagner Group's Threat: Could Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania be Cut Off from Europe?

Wagner Group's Threat: Could Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania be Cut Off from Europe?
In this Oct. 13, 2022, file photo, service members of Russian private military company Wagner Group bring combat groups to their positions, as Russia's military operation in Ukraine continues, in Luhansk. Viktor Antonyuk

Poland Raises Alarm Over Wagner Group's Threats Near Belarusian Border

Poland has recently intensified its warnings regarding the potential dangers posed by the Wagner Group, especially amidst the escalating tensions at its border with Belarus.

During a recent CNN interview, Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister, Paweł Jabłoński, stressed the immediacy of the Wagner Group's threat. He claimed that there have been attempts by Wagner forces to breach Polish territories. This comes in the backdrop of strained relations between Poland and the Wagner Group. The group, previously known to have collaborated with Russian forces during the conflict in Ukraine, was expelled to Belarus in late June. This expulsion was the result of an alleged uprising against the Russian military hierarchy due to disagreements over Moscow's prolonged invasion tactics.

Wagner's relocation to Belarus is perceived as a potential destabilizing factor for countries in central and eastern Europe. Poland, being a NATO member, is particularly concerned.

A specific area of concern for Polish authorities is the Suwałki Gap, a narrow corridor along Poland's northeastern border. This strip of land separates Russia from its Kaliningrad exclave. If Wagner were to seize control of this region, it would effectively cut off the Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - from the rest of Europe. Such a strategic move would potentially give Moscow considerable leverage over these nations. Given the terms of NATO's foundational treaty, any attack on a member nation is considered an attack on the entire alliance, which means such an act would necessitate a collective response from NATO.

In his discussion with CNN, Jabłoński affirmed Poland's resilience against any threats from Wagner. "We won't be retreating," he asserted, indicating that Poland is prepared for potential border violations or airspace infringements. To bolster their defenses against possible incursions, Poland is planning to deploy additional troops along the Belarusian frontier.