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Suspected Russian deserter arrested in Poland

Is he a deserter or a spy? A Russian soldier was arrested in Poland after illegally crossing the border from Belarus. He was apparently most recently deployed in Ukraine. His intentions are unclear.

Polish border guards have arrested a Russian deserter in the border area with Belarus. The 41-year-old crossed the border illegally with a group of migrants, said a spokeswoman for the authority. Accordingly, officials found papers on the man showing that he was a member of the Russian army and was most recently deployed in Ukraine.

As the radio station reported, the soldier was said to have been unarmed and mingled with the migrants in civilian clothing. He therefore initially remained in the custody of the border guard and was interrogated. “We have to find out what his intention was. The question is whether we are dealing with the execution of an order from the Russian secret services,” Deputy Interior Minister Czeslaw Mroczek told the PAP news agency.

The Russian embassy in Warsaw said it had received “no information” from Polish authorities about the arrest of a military member, according to Russian media reports. However, the Polish side is obliged to inform the embassy.

Accusations against Lukashenko

The relationship between the EU and NATO country Poland and its authoritarian neighboring country Belarus has been tense for a long time. Poland is one of the most important military supporters of Ukraine, which is attacked by Russia. Belarus is a close ally of Moscow.

In the summer of 2022, Poland secured the border with Belarus with a 5.5 meter high fence and an electronic surveillance system. In late summer and autumn 2021, the situation there escalated: thousands of people tried to enter the EU illegally. The European Union accuses Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of having organized migrants from crisis regions to the EU's external border in order to put pressure on the West.

Even since the border fortifications were built, migrants have been trying to cross the EU's external border irregularly every day.

Espionage investigations against Polish judge

On Monday it became known that the Polish judge Tomasz Szmydt had applied for asylum in Belarus. Szmydt was quoted by the Belarusian state news agency Belta as saying that he wanted to protest against Polish policy towards the neighboring country and Russia.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said he was shocked and called the judge a “traitor.” According to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Szmydt had access to secret documents. Espionage investigations were launched against him.

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