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Belarusian helicopters spotted over Białowieża as tensions escalate with Poland

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Białowieża, Poland – On Tuesday morning, residents of Białowieża, a village in Podlaskie Voivodeship, were taken aback as military helicopters flew over their locality. What was even more surprising was the identity of these helicopters – they bore Belarusian markings. Amidst conflicting statements from local witnesses and the Polish Ministry of National Defence (MON), concerns mount as the situation unfolds, with tensions escalating between Poland and Belarus.

The incident occurred around 8 a.m. when two Belarusian military helicopters entered Polish airspace from the direction of Grudki, a village near the border. The helicopters circled above the St. Nicholas Church in Białowieża before heading towards Podolan. Alarming witnesses, the helicopters flew low, passing just above the rooftops of residential areas at altitudes ranging from 200 to 300 meters. Local photographer and Podlaskie Volunteer Humanitarian Rescue member, Eliza Kowalczyk, captured images of the helicopters and posted them on her Facebook profile, asking, “What flies over Białowieża besides storks?”

The Polish Ministry of Defence initially denied any violation of Polish airspace, asserting that “Polish radar systems did not record any breaches.” However, residents and eyewitnesses maintained the helicopters’ intrusion and shared photographic evidence contradicting the official statement. Afternoon revelations led the MON to confirm the airspace violation, attributing it to two Mi-8 helicopters and an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by Belarus.

The incident has added to the growing tensions between Poland and Belarus, with concerns over potential provocations and further incidents on the shared border. Polish officials have expressed caution and preparedness, citing the need to safeguard national security. This comes in the context of recent remarks by Polish government representatives, including Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak and Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Mariusz Kamiński, who have raised concerns about the presence and activities of Wagner Group mercenaries along the border.

Residents in the border region have expressed apprehension, questioning the adequacy of their country’s defences. Fears have been heightened by the close proximity of the Belarusian military aircraft to residential areas, raising concerns for the safety and security of the population.

As the situation remains tense, observers are closely monitoring developments and evaluating responses from both Poland and Belarus. The airspace intrusion adds to the complexities of the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the region and underscores the need for diplomatic dialogue to avoid further escalation.

The Polish government and international community are keeping a watchful eye on developments, aiming to prevent any potential escalation of the situation. Clarity and communication between the concerned parties are essential to ensure stability and safeguard the interests of the populations living along the Polish-Belarusian border.

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