8 October, 2021
For months Poland and other states which neighbor Belarus including Latvia and Lithuania have accused President Victor Lukashenko of intentionally sending thousands of migrants into the EU as political payback for Western sanctions and isolation measures targeting his government in Minsk, forcing these border states to seal off and militarize key crossings.
Poland is now sounding the alarm amid reports that a large caravan of at least hundreds of migrants, believed to mostly be Middle Eastern and Muslim, are currently walking to its eastern border with Belarus. “Belarus wants to cause a major incident, preferably with shots fired and casualties,” Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk has said in fresh statements given to Polish public radio.
Lukashenko’s government is accused of in some cases literally flying plane loads full of migrants to border towns, after which they are escorted and pushed by state security troops toward border crossings.
Last week Poland’s deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski called what Belarus is doing a form of “hybrid warfare” on its border, flooding neighboring EU countries with Muslim migrants. Given that Poland’s defense ministry has freshly indicated that over 12,000 soldiers have now been deployed and stand “prepared to defend the Polish border”, along with a beefed up police and volunteer guards presence, there are fears of a major incident looming.
This as multiple social media videos over the last days show increasingly aggressive and provocative confrontations. Belarusian agents are accused of prodding people across barbed wire fences where they are met with armed Polish guards on the other side.
The size of the migrant caravans which are allowed to traverse Belarusian highways, most recently near the Bruzhi-Kuznica crossing, have increased…
Reuters describes a few of the circulating videos as follows:
In one video, people carrying rucksacks and wearing winter clothing are seen walking on the side of a highway with a billboard written in Belarusian.
Another video showed a large group of men and women escorted by armed men in military uniform. The Polish Defense Ministry distributed a video which it said showed a group of migrants near the Bruzhi-Kuznica border crossing.
Belarus has responded to Warsaw’s accusations by saying the situation has only escalated due to Poland’s “inhumane attitude” and has claimed it seeks to halt any migrant caravans significantly before reaching the border.
Interestingly, Poland will now pursue construction of a large wall in place of what’s mostly razor wire fences at this point:
Poland has imposed a state of emergency at the border, put up razor wire, and increased the number of soldiers and guards to stem the flow of migrants crossing from Belarus. Lawmakers have also approved the building of a $407 million wall on its eastern border.
Polish reports have tallied some 23,000 migrants who have already tried crossing the Polish-Belarusian border since the start of the year; however, it’s unclear how many of these have made it into the country. Human rights monitors have noted they are between a rock and a hard place – being pushed across by Belarusian agents amid dangerous conditions, only to be met with a militarized Polish border fence and patrols, as some fresh video appears to show.
The would-be asylum seekers hoping to cross over the wooded frontier are predominantly young males, Stanislaw Zaryn, the spokesman for Poland’s Minister-Coordinator of Special Services said on Monday.
“The group of migrants gathered in a large crowd by the Belarusians comprises mostly young men. The biggest attempt to date to enter Poland by force has just begun,” Zaryn said on Twitter.
The official also reiterated accusations that Minsk is controlling and directing the migrant flow toward Poland, insisting the new crowd is under the “strict control of armed Belarusians.”
“They decide which way the group goes. This is another Belarusian hostile action aimed at Poland,” Zaryn said earlier in the day in a separate tweet, sharing a video purportedly shot from Belarus, close to the demarcation line.
Large convoy of refugees marches through Belarus to Polish border (VIDEO)The situation on the border between the two nations has gotten progressively more tense since June, after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced Minsk would no longer make any effort to stop the migrants, primarily originating from the Middle East, who seek to reach the EU through his country. Both Poland and Brussels have repeatedly accused Belarus of “weaponizing” migration, laying on flights from troubled destinations like Iraq and Iran and encouraging people to make the crossing. Officials have branded this purported plan as a form of hybrid warfare by Minsk.
Warsaw has ramped up its border security, seeking to fend off the illegal migrant flow, with 23,000 attempted border crossings registered this year, according to Polish figures. Last month, the country also approved a new $400 million border fence project, designed to keep the migrants out.