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Polish Border Guards Arrest Russian Army Deserter

A crossing on the Polish-Belarusian border. Artur Reszko / EPA / TASS

A Russian army deserter has been detained in Poland after crossing the border from Belarus, the Polish border guard announced Wednesday.

“The Border Guard confirms the detention of a deserter from Russia. He is a 41-year-old man who illegally crossed the border from Belarus to Poland,” the state agency wrote on X (formerly Twitter). 

“Further actions are being taken against him,” it added without providing further details.

Russia’s Embassy in Warsaw said Polish authorities have not informed it about the reported detention, according to Russian state media.

Poland’s RMF FM radio, citing anonymous sources, reported that the unidentified Russian deserter was unarmed and dressed in civilian clothes when he was detained. He was reportedly carrying Russian military documents, including an army contract indicating his involvement in Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

“All indications are that he tried to illegally enter our country via Belarus, directly from the Ukrainian front,” RMF FM said.

Though it was not immediately possible to verify the report, independent Russian media have recorded a surge in the number of criminal prosecutions for army desertion since Russia invaded Ukraine over two years ago.

Russia passed legislation in the fall of 2022 that toughened prison terms for voluntary surrender, conscientious objection, and desertion. However, independent media reports have shown that most of the soldiers received suspended sentences so they could be sent back to the battlefield.

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