Belarus: Migrants mass at Kuznica-Bruzgi border with Poland
The European Union has accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, 67, of adopting a “gangster-style approach” to the humanitarian crisis on the Polish border. Officials in Warsaw warn hundreds of migrants have continued to flock to the EU’s external border after recent footage showed Poland’s border force had been preventing those trying to cross over from Belarus.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people are believed to have settled at a makeshift migrant camp opposite the small Polish village of Kuźnica.
Now, EU Council President Charles Michel has arrived in Warsaw to meet with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to discuss the situation.
According to Politico, the visit will show the EU’s “solidarity” with Poland – despite increasing tensions between Warsaw and the bloc.
The meeting will also “highlight differing views within the bloc when it comes to how Brussels can respond to Minsk’s deplorable tactics”.
Mateusz Morawiecki and Charles Michel
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
The EU’s 27 member states agreed to suspend a visa facilitation agreement between Belarus and the bloc on Tuesday, according to the guardian.
A spokesman from the European Commission said: “This is part of the inhuman and really gangster-style approach of the Lukashenko regime that he is lying to people, he is misusing people, misleading them, and bringing them to Belarus under the false promise of having easy entry into the EU.”
Brussels is also said to be in talks with 13 countries, including Iraq and Pakistan, who could be the sources of people arriving at the EU’s external border.
It has been suggested Minsk has been issuing special visas allowing people from Middle Eastern nations to fly into Belarus.
Migrant border crisis between Belarus and Poland
Calls are also growing for the bloc to sanction Turkish Airlines and Russia’s Aeroflot, which are flying from the Middle East to Minsk.
Many member states located close to the Belarusian-Polish border have voiced their concerns about the humanitarian crisis.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, 49, said: “The Belarusian regime is attacking the Polish border, the EU, in an unparalleled manner.
“We currently have a camp of migrants who are blocked from the Belarusian side.
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Mateusz Morawiecki profile
“These are aggressive actions that we must repel, fulfilling our obligations as a member of the European Union.”
A spokesman from Warsaw added: “We expect that there may be an escalation of this type of action on the Polish border in the near future, which will be of an armed nature.”
Belarus has challenged the claims put forward by the EU.
A statement from the Belarus border guard said: “The indifference and inhumane attitude of the Polish authorities has prompted the refugees to take such a step of despair.”
Mateusz Morawiecki deploys troops to the border
Russia has also voiced support for President Lukashenko’s regime.
The Kremlin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, 71, has even suggested the EU hand over financial support to Minsk in a bid to halt the number of people arriving at the border.
According to the Belarusian state news agency, Belta, President Lukashenko held talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the issues on the EU’s external frontier.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Former Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, once described President Lukashenko as having “crush[ed] democracy and violat[ed] human rights”.
The Belarusian President is believed to have said: “To conduct a war with these unfortunate people on the border of Poland with Belarus and move forward columns of tanks – it’s clear this is either a training exercise or it’s blackmail.
“We are not bullying… Because we know that if, God forbid, we make some mistake, if we stumble, it will immediately draw Russia into this whirlpool and this is the largest nuclear power.”