European Union officials are backing Poland’s accusations that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is conducting a form of “hybrid warfare” in unleashing migrant waves on the Polish border into the EU.
As we detailed earlier, stunning scenes are still coming out of the Bruzhi-Kuznica crossing in particular on Monday at a moment Warsaw is urgently sending more troops and police to secure its border with Belarus. Poland’s government issued a strongly worded statement later in the day, saying:
“By creating an artificial migration route and cynically exploiting migrants, [Belarus strongman Alexandar Lukashenko] is trying to destabilize Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, and to force the European Union to lift the sanctions imposed on the Minsk regime.”
Crazy situation on Belarus- #Poland border: Lukashenko Gov. escorted ~ 1000 Middle Eastern refugees today to Polish border to make forced entry into EU.— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) November 8, 2021
They’re now trapped, in frigid temp., with children & military standoff continues: pic.twitter.com/jRB2ASwepC
Indeed it appears Belarusian security forces are all too willing to escort the mostly Middle East origin migrants toward EU territory, with many reports saying they are even being flown to border towns.
But rather than the lifting of sanctions which originated after Lukashenko’s crackdown on largescale protests that followed last year’s disputed election, it appears the EU is ready to double down on the punitive measures which have served to further isolate Minsk. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Monday urged new sanctions late in the day Monday, following meetings with representatives of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania on the crisis:
“I am calling on Member States to finally approve the extended sanctions regime on the Belarusian authorities responsible for this hybrid attack.”
Further she threatened to act against any airline which is assisting Minsk in what she dubbed the “human trafficking” of migrants.
That’s what the situation looks like now from the Belarusian side. Migrants are using trees to try to force the border. pic.twitter.com/sfAHSQ8bVl— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) November 8, 2021
Already the country’s national carrier Belavia has been banned from operating at European airports, but lately EU leaders have mulled further reaching actions which would ban any European company from doing business with the airline.
Belarus must stop putting people’s lives at risk.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) November 8, 2021
I spoke to @MorawieckiM @IngridaSimonyte @krisjaniskarins
I call for approval of extended sanctions, possible sanctions on third country airlines involved.
We also want to prevent a humanitarian crisis and ensure safe returns
Von der Leyen added in her statement that “The EU will in particular explore how to sanction, including through blacklisting, third country airlines that are active in human trafficking.” This will include exploring options on “how to prevent a humanitarian crisis from unfolding and to ensure that migrants can be safely returned to their country of origin,” she said.
Into the night hours local reports say that the some 3,000 migrants that began attempting to break through Poland’s border security fence, but which were met with hundreds of border guards on the Polish side, have begun setting up a tent city, refusing to go anywhere.
However, critics of Belarus have said that state security services are seeking to force the migrants through to the EU side, as video from on the ground increasingly shows.
Full article here.
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