Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said demands that he kick Russian Wagner Group mercenaries out of Belarus are “unreasonable and stupid.”
“There should not be a single foreign serviceman in Poland, Lithuania or the other Baltic states. Then we can also make claims about the presence here of servicemen from other countries,” Lukashenko said during a meeting of the Security Council, reported Belarusian news agency Belta. “But for now, these are unreasonable and stupid demands (not even requests and suggestions, but demands).”
On Monday, ministers from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia met in Warsaw to discuss the border situation with neighboring Belarus, where some troops from the Wagner Group have been stationed since their aborted rebellion against Moscow in June.
The ministers want Belarus to expel all Wagner troops from its territory “immediately,” and remove the group from the Belarusian territories, while also withdrawing all undocumented migrants from the border areas and returning them to their countries of origin.
During the meeting, the ministers also said that if a “critical incident” occurs at the border with any of the present countries, they would shut down their frontier with Belarus.
Tensions between Belarus and Poland and the Baltic countries have been escalating since Wagner troops arrived earlier this summer. Neighboring countries have been beefing up security near the Belarus border, including stationing military units. Belarus also recently started military drills near its border with Poland and Lithuania, which further ramped up tensions with its neighbors.