Poland’s defense ministry says it plans to build a 2.5-meter (8-foot) fence along the border with Belarus and deploy more troops there to prevent migrants trying to enter the country.
WARSAW, Poland – Poland plans to build a fence along its border with Belarus and deploy more troops there to prevent migrants trying to enter the European Union.
The government on Monday also offered to send humanitarian aid to a group stuck at the border for more than two weeks.
Poland and the three Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of sending migrants – most obviously from Afghanistan and Iraq – across their borders, which are also the EU’s external borders, into what they call a “hybrid war”. ”
All four EU countries believe that the increase in the number of migrants is Minsk’s revenge in support of EU sanctions against the autocratic regime in Belarus.
“Using immigrants to destabilize neighboring countries is a clear violation of international law and qualifies as a hybrid attack on … Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and thus the entire European Union,” they said in a joint statement Monday, urging the United States to examine the situation.
In response to the arrival of migrants, the Polish government said last week that it had deployed over 900 troops to the border with Belarus and was strengthening the border with 150 kilometers of barbed wire. On Monday, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said more troops would be sent and a 2.5-meter (8-foot) fence would be erected at the border.
The Polish government said last week that 2,100 migrants had so far tried or managed to enter Poland illegally from Belarus in August. Nearly 800 of them entered Poland and were housed in state centers.
Meanwhile, political tensions in Poland are rising over about 30 migrants stranded on the border with Belarus. The group for refugee rights says that the group includes people from Afghanistan and some who need medical help. Poland insists they are on Belarusian territory, but continues to face criticism at home for not allowing migrants to seek asylum.
On Monday, the Polish Foreign Ministry announced that it had delivered a diplomatic note to Belarus offering food and medicine, as well as tents, beds, sleeping bags, blankets and pajamas.
Also Monday, Blaszczak, the defense minister, said he was sending a notice to prosecutors against Vladislav Frasyniuk, a prominent anti-communist dissident, for criticizing Polish troops deployed at the border. Frasyniuk said Polish soldiers at the border were not behaving humanely, accusing them of behaving like a “pack of dogs”.
Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said the situation at the border was testing how the country would react to more serious acts of hybrid warfare.
“Statements and behavior of a significant number of Polish politicians, journalists and NGO activists show that the scenario in which a foreign state carrying out such an attack on Poland will gain the support of allies in our country is very realistic,” Jablonski wrote on Twitter.
He said authorities should take advantage of the situation to “better prepare for similar threats in the future”.
In Warsaw, about twenty demonstrators were chained to a fence in front of the border guard headquarters and put barbed wire on its gates to protest against the behavior of the Polish authorities along the border.
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