Border between Poland and Belarus: the diplomatic crisis is spreading



“It is clear that what we are facing here is a manifestation of state terrorism”. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s joint statement with European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday 10 November says a lot about the climate in Warsaw over migrants assaulting its border.

→ ANALYSIS. Migrant crisis: Europe toughens its tone against Belarus

Poland reported an increase in attempts to cross migrants at its border with Belarus and announced that it had pushed back hundreds, while some had managed to cross.

“The situation is not calm”

Tomasz Krupa, spokesperson for the regional police in Podlaskie, on the border with Belarus, told AFP that more than 50 migrants who crossed the border had been arrested and that others were wanted. Also in Podlaskie, according to border guard spokeswoman Katarzyna Zdanowicz, three people – a Russian, a Lithuanian and a Swede – were arrested for having contributed to “The organization of illegal crossings”, specifying that they risk eight years in prison.

→ REPORT. In Poland, migrants in the border trap

“The situation is not calm”Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told the radio. As of Monday, November 8, the tension escalated when a group of some 1,500 people knocked down fences and cut barbed wire near the village of Kuźnica, in north-eastern Poland. Among them are young men, but also older people, accompanied by women and children. While this was a large group attempting to pass, the defense minister said that now many smaller groups “Simultaneously attack the Polish border in several places”.

This Wednesday, the Polish Prime Minister denounced a “Discreet revenge” by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for Poland’s support for the Belarusian opposition. Since this summer, migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have started to congregate on the border with Poland.

The crisis has now overtaken Poland

On Tuesday, November 9, speaking to the Polish Parliament, the Prime Minister clearly questioned the actions of the Russian president behind the Belarusian president. ” This is the latest attack by Lukashenko, who is an executor, but has a sponsor who is in Moscow, and that sponsor is President Putin who shows his determination to continue the scenario of rebuilding the Russian Empire, this scenario which we Poles must strongly oppose. Warsaw has mobilized some 15,000 troops to protect its border.

But the crisis is now beyond Poland. In addition to the statements of Charles Michel, according to whom, “Possible sanctions (against Belarus) were again on the table” and would be discussed on Monday 15 November by the member countries of the EU, German Chancellor Angela Merkel picked up her phone to call the Kremlin leader, urging him to ” to act “ versus “Instrumentalisation” migrants by the Belarusian regime, judging her “Unacceptable and inhumane”, according to a tweet from its spokesperson, Steffen Seibert.

During the interview, on the initiative of “The German part”, “Concerns have been expressed about the humanitarian consequences” of this migratory crisis, the Kremlin said in a press release. Vladimir Putin has “Proposed that discussions (…) be arranged directly between EU members and Minsk”, he added.

For Moscow, it is up to Europe to manage this crisis. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister even suggested, during a press conference reported by the Tass agency, that the European Union pays Minsk to keep migrants at home, in the same way that Brussels paid the Turkey in 2016: “ Why wouldn’t she help Belarus? She needs money so that the refugees, whom Lithuania and Poland do not want to let in, live in good conditions “.

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