Neighbours of Belarus say migrant crisis risks military clash By Reuters


© Reuters. Polish troopers patrol Poland/Belarus border close to Kuznica, Poland, on this {photograph} launched by the Polish Ministry of Defence, November 11, 2021. MON/Handout by way of REUTERS


By Joanna Plucinska and Andrius Sytas

WARSAW, Poland (Reuters) – International locations bordering Belarus expressed concern on Thursday {that a} disaster over rising numbers of migrants attempting to interrupt by way of its frontiers into the European Union might escalate right into a navy confrontation.

Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia condemned “the deliberate escalation of the continued hybrid assault by the Belarusian regime, which is posing critical threats to European safety”, referring to fees that Belarus is utilizing migrants as a weapon.

“This will increase the potential of provocations and critical incidents that would additionally spill over into navy area,” a joint assertion by the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian defence ministers stated.

Migrants stranded inside Belarus threw rocks and branches at Polish border guards and used logs to attempt to break down a razor wire fence in a single day in new makes an attempt to pressure their means into the EU, the authorities in Warsaw stated on Thursday.

The EU might impose new sanctions on Belarus as quickly as Monday after accusing Belarus of mounting a “hybrid assault” on the bloc by encouraging 1000’s of migrants fleeing war-torn components of the world to attempt to cross into the bloc.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, already below sanctions for cracking down on protests, threatened to retaliate in opposition to any new measures, together with by shutting down the transit of by way of Belarus. Europe’s gasoline market, the place costs have hit file highs in current weeks, could be extremely delicate to any interruption within the movement of Russian gasoline by way of Belarus.

The disaster has sparked a brand new confrontation between the West and Russia, which dispatched two nuclear succesful strategic bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace on Wednesday in a present of assist for its ally. Belarus stated Russian planes carried out drills for a second day on Thursday.

“Sure, these are bombers able to carrying nuclear weapons,” Lukashenko stated. “However we now have no different choice. We should see what they’re doing there past the borders.”

He additionally stated makes an attempt had been being made to switch weapons to the migrants, in what he described as a provocation in feedback carried by Belarus state media. He didn’t present any proof and it was not clear who he was accusing of doing this.

The Kremlin stated Russia had nothing to do with tensions on the border and prompt the presence of closely armed individuals on each side – an obvious reference to Belarusian and Polish border guards – was a supply of concern. The Kremlin additionally rejected as “loopy” a suggestion in a media report that its state flag provider Aeroflot might be focused with retaliatory sanctions.


Trapped between two borders, the migrants have endured freezing climate in makeshift camps. Poland has reported no less than seven migrant deaths within the months-long disaster and different migrants have expressed worry they’d die.

None of round 150 migrants gathered close to the city of Bialowieza managed to breach the border, the spokeswoman for the border guards service Ewelina Szczepanska informed Reuters, saying there had been 468 makes an attempt at unlawful crossings on Wednesday.

Neighbouring EU state Lithuania, which like Poland has imposed a state of emergency on the border, additionally reported new makes an attempt to breach the frontier.

Overseas minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stated Lithuania requested the United Nations to debate making a “humanitarian hall” from the Belarusian border for the migrants to return to their nations of origin.

“We now have info from social media, that there are individuals on the border who need to come again, to Iraq and different nations. The one worldwide group that may stress Belarus is the United Nations”, he informed reporters in Vilnius.

Poland’s deputy international minister Pawel Jablonski stated the disaster is “the worst risk Poland has confronted within the final thirty years”, telling Italian each day La Stampa it expects an escalation within the coming days.

EU international ministers might approve a fifth Belarus sanctions package deal on Monday that would embody additional listings of people and firms, a diplomat stated on Thursday. The bloc’s govt fee stated airways that deliver migrants could be on the record.

Ukraine stated its border guards, police and nationwide guard would maintain drills on the border with Belarus on Thursday to guard the nation from potential makes an attempt by migrants to breach the frontier. Whereas not an EU member, Ukraine is cautious of changing into one other flashpoint within the disaster.

The EU accuses Lukashenko of producing the state of affairs in revenge for earlier sanctions after the veteran chief unleashed a violent crackdown on mass avenue protests in opposition to his rule in 2020. Lukashenko and Russia have stated the EU was not residing as much as its humanitarian values by stopping migrants from crossing.

Massive teams of individuals fleeing conflicts and poverty within the Center East and elsewhere began flying to Minsk this spring. They then journey to the border with EU members Poland, Lithuania or Latvia and attempt to cross.

Poland’s prime minister has urged the EU to take motion to stem the movement of airways ferrying migrants to Minsk.

EU Fee Vice President Margaritis Schinas was within the United Arab Emirates on Thursday as a part of a go to to nations within the area whose airways are working flights to Belarus, diplomats and officers stated.

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