Belarus accuses Polish military helicopter of breaching airspace, Poland denies claim

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Belarus on Friday said a Polish aircraft had breached its airspace, the latest spat between the neighbors whose ties have deteriorated during Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

“A Polish military helicopter Mi-24 crossed the state border at an extremely low altitude, flew up to 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) into the territory of Belarus and then turned back,” the Belarusian Border Service said on Telegram.

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It published a video purportedly showing a helicopter flying across the border.

Poland denied that one of its military helicopters had breached Belarus’s airspace, calling the Belarusian claims “lies and provocations” at a time of tension between the neighbors.

“These are lies and provocations from the Belarusian side. There was definitely no such violation,” Jacek Goryszewski, spokesman for the operational command of Poland’s armed forces, told AFP.

Relations between Minsk and Warsaw, frozen for years, have hit new lows since Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko allowed Moscow to use his country to attack Ukraine.

The incident took place over the Grodno region on the border, which stretches for roughly 400 kilometers (about 250 miles).

The Belarusian foreign ministry said it summoned the Polish charge d’affaires over the incident.

“The Polish side was required to provide appropriate explanations and conduct a thorough investigation,” it said.

There have been renewed tensions between the two countries, particularly since Russian Wagner mercenary fighters moved to Belarus after a short-lived mutiny against Russia’s army in June.

Last week Poland and the Baltic states demanded that Belarus expel Wagner fighters.

Lukashenko said the requests were “stupid” and accused the countries of “whipping up hysteria about the presence of Wagner private military employees on our territory.”

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