The flow of migrant groups to the Belarus-Poland border continues to preoccupy the international community. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help in resolving the border dispute. On the other hand, Moscow on Tuesday sent two nuclear bombers to Belarus to help the country militarily.
Poland, Lithuania and, to a lesser extent, Latvia have complained for months about groups of migrants from the Middle East and Africa trying to reach the European Union from Belarus. The situation has been tense since hundreds, perhaps thousands, of migrants turned up at Belarus’s border with Poland last week. The Belarusian authorities sent migrants to the border to thwart the European Union after sanctions previously imposed by the bloc. It is impossible to verify exactly how many migrants are involved Because Poland closed the border area to journalists and aid workers.
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The European Union will criticize Belarus policy on Wednesday. A spokesman told Reuters news agency that the French government had said the country was “facilitating the migrant trade to destabilize the European Union”. EU President Charles Michel spoke in Poland of a “brutal attack on the EU’s borders”, in which Minsk abused the needs of migrants in a “cynical and appalling way”.
Russia sends bombers
In a phone conversation Merkel had with Putin on Wednesday, she called the “exploitation of migrants” by Belarus “absolutely inhuman and unacceptable”. Putin, who has close ties to Minsk, promised Merkel “to continue talking about this.” Meanwhile, Moscow sent two nuclear bombers to Belarus on Wednesday to patrol the border with Poland.
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The Russian move came shortly after it was learned that the European Union was considering additional sanctions against Belarus for “artificially” causing a migrant crisis. The Belarusian regime denies allegations that it is using immigrants as pawns in a power struggle. “At the beginning of next week there will be an expansion of sanctions,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “It is important that Lukashenko realizes that his behavior has a price.”
According to the United Nations, the situation in the border areas is dire. Men, women, and children have to spend nights in the cold without food, water, or medical care. Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the countries concerned to resolve “this intolerable crisis”. According to Polish authorities, 599 migrants tried to cross the border on Tuesday. Nine of them were arrested and dozens were returned to Belarus. The area is heavily guarded by about 15,000 Polish soldiers.
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