Polish defence minister says Belarus border crisis could last months
Poland’s defence minister on Wednesday said that the migrant crisis on his country’s border with Belarus could drag on for months as migrants made fresh attempts to cross into the European Union.
Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak (pictured) has warned that the migrant crisis on Belarus border could last for months.PAP/Rafał Guz
Mariusz Błaszczak’s words came after Polish officials said a day earlier that 12 security force members suffered injuries as large groups of migrants bombarded them with stones at the Poland-Belarus border crossing in Kuźnica.
In an interview with public broadcaster Polish Radio on Wednesday, Błaszczak said that „the situation on the Belarus border will not be resolved quickly.”
„We have to prepare for months, if not years,” he added.
Błaszczak told Polish Radi that while all eyes were on the clashes in Kuźnica, smaller groups of migrants tried to break through some other sections of the frontier, and so „the night wasn’t peaceful,” he said.
Fresh attempts at illegal crossing
Poland’s Border Guard agency on Wednesday said it had thwarted „two forceful attempts to cross the border” the previous evening.
Some hundred migrants attempted to break through the frontier near the village of Dubicze Cerkiewne, and another 50-strong group tried to cross into Poland in the Czeremcha area, the agency said.
It also tweeted footage which it said showed somebody on the Belarusian side using blinding laser weapons against Polish officials during the illegal crossing attempt near Czeremcha.
A spokeswoman for the Border Guard said the aggressive migrant group tried to force its way through the border, while also throwing stones as „the Belarusian side directed a blinding green-laser light at us.”
„We stopped both attempts at illegal crossing and nobody passed through,” the spokeswoman, Anna Michalska, said, as cited by state news agency PAP. Anna Michalska, spokeswoman for the Polish Border Guard. Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak
Meanwhile, Błaszczak announced that Polish troops stationed at the border would receive special bonuses and financial rewards for their service, the PAP news agency reported.
The migrant crisis has grown since the summer, with Poland, the European Union and its member states, as well as NATO and the United States accusing Alexander Lukashenko, the autocratic leader of Belarus, of orchestrating the standoff in retaliation for Western sanctions against his regime.
EU foreign ministers on Monday gave the green light for a widening of the sanctions in response to Minsk’s actions.
Lukashenko has denied luring vulnerable people, including Kurds from the Middle East, with the false promise of easy access to the EU and sending them over the bloc’s border.
Tensions at Polish-Belarusian border
Poland’s Border Guard said on Wednesday it had recorded 161 illegal attempts to cross from Belarus over the past 24 hours. Since the start of the year, over 33,000 such attempts have been recorded, the PAP news agency reported.
Since September 2, Warsaw has kept the border zone under a state of emergency in the face of the migrant pressure.
Poland also plans to build a solid fence along the Belarus frontier, crowned with barbed wire and fitted with electronic surveillance devices. The protective wall is due to be ready by mid-2022.
EU, NATO, US, UN nations condemn Belarus
The United States has called on Russia to use its influence over Belarus „to cease its callous exploitation and coercion of vulnerable people,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said this week amid the deepening migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border.
US State Secretary Antony Blinken at the weekend reaffirmed America’s support for Poland amid the crisis on the EU member’s border with Belarus.
The United States and European members of the UN Security Council last week condemned Belarus for the “orchestrated instrumentalization” of migrants as tensions rose along the Polish-Belarusian border.
The Polish prime minister has said that NATO must take steps to help resolve the crisis on the Belarus border, adding that Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia may ask for consultations under Article 4 of the alliance’s treaty.
Polish lawmakers have begun debating legislation to strengthen the country’s frontiers amid rising tensions on the border with Belarus.