The former Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, has accused the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) of using scaremongering tactics involving the Wagner private military company (PMC) in the lead-up to a crucial parliamentary election. In response, the current Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, criticized Tusk as being out of touch with the real threats facing Poland.
Tusk made his accusations in a tweet, stating that it appeared as though PiS was seeking the help of the Wagner Group because they feared the election. He encouraged supporters of his party, Civic Platform, to attend a rally in October. Tusk’s comments were in reference to Morawiecki’s previous claims that around 100 members of the Belarus-based private military company were moving towards the Polish border. The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, dismissed these concerns, stating that the Wagner troops were actually busy training Belarusian soldiers.
Morawiecki quickly fired back at Tusk, accusing him of being unaware of the threats that Poland faced. He referenced Tusk’s 2009 meeting with then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Sopot, Poland, suggesting that Tusk did not see Putin’s aggression in Crimea and Donbass. Morawiecki implied that Tusk was serving German interests and should be returned to Brussels, where he previously served as the leader of the European People’s Party.
Tusk, who also served as the President of the European Council, is a strong supporter of European integration, in contrast to the nationalist PiS government. Poland is set to hold its parliamentary election in October, with PiS aiming to secure a third term in power. Some local media outlets have suggested that the ruling party may benefit from the public’s sense of uncertainty regarding a foreign threat.
As Tusk and Morawiecki traded barbs online, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski suggested that the Wagner Group’s relocation to Belarus was for a specific purpose, possibly to organize provocations or penetrate the Polish border. He reaffirmed that the election would be held on time, regardless of these concerns.
Belarus agreed to host the private Russian force after its leader, Evgeny Prigozhin, led a brief mutiny in June. Prigozhin’s exile was part of a deal accepted by Moscow to avoid significant bloodshed.
The tensions between PiS and Tusk’s Civic Platform highlight the political divisions and electoral strategies at play in Poland. The accusations and counter-accusations serve to mobilize their respective bases of support leading up to the parliamentary election. As the campaign intensifies, Poland’s future direction within the European Union and its relationship with neighboring countries, such as Belarus and Russia, remain key issues for voters to consider.