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.
According to the Guardian, the EU’s 27 member states agreed to suspend a visa facilitation agreement between Belarus and the bloc on Tuesday.
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.
But the Guardian also reports 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.
“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.”
Parliamentarians in Lithuania, a country which also shares a border with Belarus, voted on Tuesday to introduce state of emergency measures.
Belarusian state news agency Belta reported Lukashenko held talks with Vladimir Putin, 69, to discuss the issues on the EU’s external frontier on Monday.
The Belarusian President, who Dominic Raab described as having “crush[ed] democracy and violate[d] human rights”, 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.”
He added: “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.”