Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday criticized what he called "stupid demands" from Poland and the Baltic states for Wagner fighters sheltering in his country to leave.
Wagner fighters took refuge in Belarus after they staged a short-lived rebellion against Moscow's military leadership in June, prompting concerns from neighboring countries.
"They are whipping up hysteria about the presence of Wagner private military employees on our territory," Lukashenko told members of his Security Council.
"They have reached the point where they are already demanding their immediate withdrawal from Belarus," he said, calling these demands "unreasonable and stupid."
Poland and the Baltic nations on Monday asked Belarus to expel members of the mercenary group, issuing the call days after Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed in a mysterious plane crash in Russia.
Poland, which shares roughly 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) of border with Belarus, says thousands of Wagner fighters are stationed in the country, posing a security threat.
Lithuania said earlier this month it was "temporarily suspending" two of its six border crossings with Belarus, citing the security risk posed by Wagner.