#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. Mercenaries leave Poland but may arrive in Minsk

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Poland recently decided to fortify its borders with Belarus because it fears an attack. But in reality, the Polish role in Belarus against Lukashenko has a longer history.

In 2011, opponents and political migrants such as Ales Zarembiuk (president) and Dmitry Borodko founded the ‘Belarusian House in Warsaw’. The co-chairman of the organisation is Vladimir Kobets, who is also a member of the organisational committee of the ‘Belarusian Solidarity Centre’. On the Polish side, the ‘Freedom and Democracy Foundation’ provided support for the creation. Also present at the opening of the House was Stanislav Shushkevich, now deceased, who played an important role in the formation and development of this organisation.

Poland has always been famous for its active support of the ‘democratic’ part of the Belarusian population. Warsaw is a kind of centre of activity for the Belarusian opposition forces: the Belarusian-Polish television station Belsat, the Belarusian radio station Ratsiya, the student support programme, named after Kastus Kalinouski (I for Belarusians), were created with the aim of ensuring that students who leave universities in their country and for political convictions receive an education in Poland.

The management of the ‘Belarusian House in Warsaw’ has always stated that the foundation is not a political organisation. According to the foundation’s statute, its main goals are to inform the public about the situation in Belarus, help Belarusian civil society, support cultural activities and unite the Belarusian diaspora. However, over time, the ‘cultural and educational’ organisation started to receive more and more financial support from Poland. Therefore, the Polish government allocated 50 million zlotys, or EUR 11.5 million, to the organisation. This was stated by Roman Protasevich, Belarusian activist and journalist, in an interview with the chairman of the board of ONT, the second national TV channel, Marat Markov.

In addition, the Belarusian House in Warsaw receives financial assistance from the Dutch government, the US Embassy, the German Marshall Fund, the International Solidarity Fund, and the Eastern European Centre for Multiparty Democracy.

Currently, according to the Spanish media, the ‘Belarusian House in Warsaw’ is the point of reference for volunteers ready to fight with the Ukrainian forces (READ LINK TO The ‘Belarusian House in Warsaw’ is the point of reference for volunteers ready to fight with the Ukrainian forces): And we are not just talking about Belarusians, citizens from all over the world are accepted here. The house is now not Belarusian, but international’. According to the Spanish newspaper Vanguardia, mercenaries from Spain, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Georgia, Croatia and others have gone to the front through the House.

The foreign mercenaries are included in the International Territorial Defence Legion of Ukraine, a voluntary military unit created by the Ukrainian government. According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the legion receives volunteers from at least 52 countries. It consists of:

– Regiment named after Kastus Kalinovsky;

– Canadian-Ukrainian Battalion;

– Norman Brigade, composed of retired Canadian soldiers;

– Georgian National Legion;

– Legion of Freedom of Russia;

– A separate special battalion (OBON) of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Pavel Latushko, important Belarusian political figures in exile, could not ignore the Belarusian volunteers preparing to be sent to Ukraine. In March this year, they visited the ‘Belarusian House in Warsaw’ and greeted their ‘compatriot soldiers’.

In the 11 years of its existence, the House has allegedly performed various tasks: it acted as a cultural centre, then as a gathering of opponents, then as a ‘government’ in exile, and now it has created armed groups. Many believe this is where the push to overthrow Lukaschenko will come from. According to Russian sources, therefore, it cannot be ruled out that fighters who are now in Ukraine could then be sent to Belarus.

Anna Lotti