Polish police announced on their Twitter account on Sunday that a new group of 50 illegal migrants had entered Poland’s territory on Saturday night on the border with Belarus. Tensions continue as EU foreign ministers announce new sanctions against the Minsk regime on Monday, accused of orchestrating a new migrant crisis on the borders of the EU bloc. At the same time, after denying any mixture, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday he offered to “help” solve the crisis.
UPDATE 15.17 NATO needs to take concrete action to resolve the migrant crisis on the border with Belarus, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday, adding that his country, Lithuania and Latvia could request consultations under Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
UPDATE 13.29 Vladimir Putin said on Sunday, according to Reuters, that he was ready to help resolve the crisis of illegal migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland. During the interview, Vladimir Putin also claimed that he initially found out about this crisis from the press. He added that since its inception until now, it has had two talks with President Alexander Lukashenko.
Polish police announced on their Twitter account on Sunday that a new group of 50 illegal migrants entered Poland’s territory on Saturday night, on the border with Belarus, near Dubicze Cerkiewne (east).
At another point on the border, 22 Iraqis were detained. Reuters – which also quotes Polish police – reported that 50 migrants managed to reach the village of Starzyna.
Polish police also said that their forces were attacked on Saturday night, in a separate attempt to force the border, and the protective helmet of a police officer was damaged after a stone was thrown in the direction of the policeman.
A total of 223 attempted fraudulent border crossings were registered on Saturday, police said, according to Agerpres.
The situation on the Polish-Belarusian border is increasingly dangerous, given that temperatures in the area are close to those of winter, and many migrants have no shelters, only rudimentary makeshift tents, according to the dpa.
Polish police also said that four people were arrested on Saturday for helping migrants cross the border. It is about two Georgians, a Pole and a Syrian.
EU summit and new sanctions for Belarus
EU foreign ministers will extend sanctions against the Republic of Belarus on Monday to include airlines and travel agencies suspected of being involved in bringing migrants to the border with the EU bloc, European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told Reuters on Sunday.
Fearing these sanctions and pressure from Turkey, the Belarusian state-owned airline announced on Friday that it would no longer allow citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen to board.
The EU has accused Belarus of encouraging migrants to come to its territory and then pushing thousands of them to move to Poland and other neighboring EU states in revenge for sanctions already imposed on Minsk.
Two diplomats said on Thursday that the EU was considering imposing sanctions on Belarus’ main airport in an attempt to make it more difficult for airlines to transport migrants.
The foreign ministers of the community bloc are due to meet on Monday in Brussels. “We will give the green light to expand the legal framework of our sanctions against Belarus so that it can be applied to all those involved in the illegal introduction of migrants into this country,” Borrell told Le Journal du Dimanche.
He added that the directors of airlines and travel agencies could be targeted by travel bans and a freeze on assets in the European Union.
At the same time, about 30 Belarusian government officials suspected of involvement in this migrant crisis could also be targeted by sanctions, Borrell said.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, already under international sanctions for cracking down on protests, has threatened to crack down on any new measures, including stopping the transit of natural gas through Belarus to Europe.