Tensions in the Baltic region continued to rise on Wednesday after Russia deployed several “military helicopters” along its border with Poland.
The Russian military, which declined to comment on the helicopters’ exact location, said they were testing “the combat abilities of the group of anti-aircraft guns” attached to the Kura anti-tank division.
“The anti-aircraft guns have long been the Russian military’s armament of choice for their test-firing and manoeuvre tests along the European frontiers,” a spokesman for the Polish defence ministry said in a statement.
He noted that Russia had conducted military exercises for over a year on the Polish-Soviet border and warned that they were “likely to renew themselves shortly”.
“We understand the long-term goal of this military exercise … is to improve Russian operational capabilities for self-defence,” he said.
Poland has become increasingly worried about its security after Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and President Vladimir Putin annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Earlier this month, Poland’s government withdrew from a defence plan following diplomatic disputes with the United States and Russia over the sales of the Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia and the prospect of expanding the country’s air force with fighter jets and other modernised military assets.
Last month, at a joint news conference with President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo cautioned Poland against moving ahead with its plan for a permanent US military base in the country.