Belarusian forces staging provocations at border: Polish officials

Poland’s Border Guard agency on Saturday reported that Belarusian forces had staged a number of “aggressive provocations” at the frontier between the two countries.

The Polish-Belarusian border.

The Polish-Belarusian border.PAP/Wojtek Jargiło

The Border Guard’s spokeswoman Anna Michalska told reporters that the provocations took place over the past 24 hours near the town of Michałowo and the villages of Czeremcha and Szudziałowo, the state PAP news agency reported.

On Friday evening near Czeremcha, “five Belarusian border guards lobbed stones at Polish patrols,” the official said. “They cut through razor wire and flashed torches at Polish forces,” Michalska added, noting that “a window was smashed in a military vehicle.”

Later that evening near Michałowo, “Belarusian soldiers tried to damage the razor wire and started pelting Polish patrols with tree branches, rocks and glass bottles,” the Border Guard spokeswoman said.  

She added that “about a dozen migrants stood on the edge of the woods, probably waiting for an opportunity to cross the border.” However, “after a time, everybody retreated,” the official said. 

Finally, “on Friday night, a Belarusian soldier attempted to cut through the razor wire near Szudziałowo,” Michalska told reporters. 

Attempts to cross illegally into Poland

Moreover, 54 people tried to cross illegally into Poland from Belarus in the past 24 hours, the Border Guard agency announced.   

This number included “a group of 31 Iranian citizens, who were detained near the village of Narewka,” the agency’s spokeswoman said. 

She added that these migrants did not apply for international protection, and so were escorted back to the border. 

Michalska also told PAP that Polish border forces on Friday stopped a car with four Iraqi passengers and a Ukrainian driver, as well as detaining a citizen of Cuba. Both incidents occurred near the village of Nowy Dwór, she added.  

“Such a mix of nationalities, including Iran and Cuba, proves that this is not a natural migration and that these people are being brought artificially into Belarus,” the Border Guard’s spokeswoman said. 

So far in January, there have been 461 illegal attempts to enter Poland from Belarus. Over the course of 2021, the number of such attempts totalled 39,700, according to the agency’s data.

To stave off an influx of migrants, Poland has introduced new, stricter border protection rules and is set to build a 5.5-metre-high, 180-kilometre-long protective wall along its frontier with Belarus.

The protracted migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border escalated in the autumn of 2021, with the European Union, NATO and the United States accusing Belarus’ strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the standoff in retaliation for Western sanctions against his regime.

(pm)

Source: PAP, IAR

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