Poland blames Belarus when migrants try to cross the border by force

Poland accused Belarus of trying to spark a major clash on Monday, as videos showed hundreds of migrants walking towards the Polish border and some trying to break through the fence with shovels and other implements.

Warsaw said it had deployed more soldiers, border guards and police, while neighboring Lithuania said it could introduce a state of emergency on its border with Belarus.

The European Union, which includes Poland and Lithuania, accuses Minsk of encouraging migrants from the Middle East and Africa to cross into the EU through Belarus, as a form of hybrid warfare in revenge for Western sanctions against the government. of President Alexander Lukashenko for human rights. abuses.

Poland said it had resisted the first attempts on Monday by migrants to forcibly cross the border.

A video distributed by the Polish authorities showed a man cutting part of a barbed wire fence, another attacking the fence with a shovel, while a Polish soldier sprays an unidentified substance from a can.

Migrants use wire cutters to cut the barbed wire as they try to cross the Belarusian-Polish border near Kuznica Bialostocka, Poland, in this video capture released by the Polish Ministry of Defense on November 8, 2021 (credit: MON / BROCHURE VIA REUTERS). )

In an earlier video, shared by the Belarusian blogging service NEXTA, migrants wearing backpacks and wearing winter clothes were seen walking along the side of a road. Other videos showed large groups of migrants sitting by the road and escorted by armed men in khaki.

“Belarus wants to provoke a larger incident, preferably with shooting and casualties. According to media reports, they are preparing a major provocation near Kuznica Bialostocka, that there will be an attempted mass border crossing,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk. Polish public radio.

Lithuania said it was also moving additional troops to the border to prepare for a possible increase in migrant crossings. Latvia said the situation was “alarming”.


The Lukashenko government has repeatedly denied manufacturing a migration crisis, blaming the West for the crossings and the treatment of migrants.

Belarus’ state borders committee confirmed on Monday that many refugees were moving towards the Polish border, but said Warsaw was adopting an “inhumane attitude”.

Poland has stationed more than 12,000 soldiers at the border, its defense minister said, as he shared aerial images of migrants grouped on the Belarusian side.

“They throw tree trunks at the fence to reduce the height of this fence and break it down,” said Katarzyna Zdanowicz, a spokeswoman for the Polish border guards in the area.

Belarusian opposition leader in exile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, urged a strong response from the EU and the United Nations.

“Belarusian regime intensifies border crisis: gunmen push migrants to the EU border,” he tweeted. “Migrant smuggling, violence and mistreatment must stop.”

The EU, the United States and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on Belarus after Lukashenko unleashed a violent crackdown on mass protests following disputed elections last year.

“The Lukashenko regime is putting the lives and health of migrants at risk, using them to escalate the border crisis and provoke Poland,” said Bix Aliu, US ChargĂ© d’Affaires in Warsaw. “The hostile actions of Belarus are dangerously aggravating the situation on the border with the EU and NATO and must stop immediately.”

Lukashenko has defied opposition calls to resign, backed by money and diplomatic support from his traditional ally Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov defended Minsk’s handling of the migrant problem on Monday, saying Belarus was taking all necessary steps to act legally.

Charities say the migrants face freezing weather conditions and lack of food and medical care.

Poland said seven migrants had been found dead on its side of the border, with more deaths reported in Belarus.

Humanitarian groups accuse Poland’s ruling nationalists of violating international asylum law by pushing migrants back to Belarus instead of accepting their requests for protection. Poland says its actions are legal.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Facebook: “The Polish border is not just a line on a map. The border is sacred, Polish blood has been shed over it!”


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