Migration crisis: Westerners condemn Minsk, Putin calls for dialogue

Moscow | The West condemned on Thursday at the UN an “orchestrated instrumentalization of human beings” by Belarus on the border with Poland to “destabilize the external border of the European Union”, and called for a “strong international reaction” despite Russian President Vladimir Putin. call prior to dialogue.

• Also read: Poland accuses Putin of orchestrating the migration crisis

• Also read: Thousands of migrants on the Polish border, the tone is rising with Belarus

A few thousand migrants, mainly from the Middle East, find themselves stranded in difficult conditions on the Belarusian-Polish border. Europeans accuse Minsk of fueling the crisis by issuing visas and chartering flights in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Lukashenko’s regime last year following the brutal crackdown on opponents.

In a joint statement issued after an emergency meeting of the Security Council, Estonia, France, Ireland, the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom estimated on Thursday night that Belarus’s objective was also “to destabilize neighboring countries.” and “distracting attention from its own growing human rights violations.”

Vladimir Poutine

AFP photo

Vladimir Poutine

“This tactic is unacceptable and requires strong international reaction and cooperation to hold Belarus to account,” underscored the signatories, without however mentioning concrete measures.

Earlier, during a telephone interview with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the second in two days, Vladimir Putin had estimated that the resolution of this “serious migration crisis” required “the reestablishment of contacts between the EU countries and Belarus,” according to a statement from the Kremlin.

But, at the end of the patience, Berlin judged on Thursday that it was “the moment to draw the consequences” of this crisis by reinforcing sanctions against the Lukashenko regime. Measures are expected early next week, according to Brussels.

Gas threat

With Russia’s support, Lukashenko on Thursday threatened to respond to possible sanctions by closing the valves on a major gas pipeline that supplies Europe, at a time when the continent already faces shortages.

Migration crisis: Westerners condemn Minsk, Putin calls for dialogue

“What if we cut off the natural gas that goes there?” Said the man who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994.

But in an exclusive interview with AFP, his main opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, who lives in exile, estimated that Lukashenko “was bluffing”, asking the EU not to dialogue with this “illegitimate” leader.

Brussels accuses Minsk of having implemented logistics to attract and transport migrants to the Polish border, promising easy access to the Schengen area.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who accused the Lukashenko regime of “state terrorism”, said on Thursday that his country was the target of a “war of a new kind” with civilians being used as “munitions”.

Caught in a vice

Warsaw further claims that Belarusian security forces are firing into the air to force the migrants to advance.

Minsk, in turn, maintains that Polish border guards violate international standards by violently rejecting them.

Trapped in a freehold, many migrants, including children and women, are trapped in the forested area of ​​the border.

This is particularly the case for more than 2,000 people, including Kurds, who have been stranded for several days in a makeshift camp, where they warm themselves by burning firewood to withstand temperatures close to 0 ° C.

Migration crisis: Westerners condemn Minsk, Putin calls for dialogue

On Thursday they were delivered “emergency humanitarian aid”, including blankets, warm clothes and diapers, said a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

According to the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, ten migrants have died in the border area since the beginning of this crisis.

Be in search

Faced with this influx, Poland deployed 15,000 troops, erected a fence topped with barbed wire and approved the construction of a border wall.

Warsaw has registered more than 32,000 intrusion attempts on its territory since August, including 17,300 in October.

In Sokolka, a Polish town about 15 km from the border, authorities were on alert, stopping vehicles to verify they were not transporting migrants, AFP said on Wednesday.

Several residents of this city have expressed their concern and expressed their support for the firmness of its authorities.

“I fear that the migrants will make it through and the consequences this could have,” said Henryk Lenkiewicz, a 67-year-old retiree.

For fear of being dragged into the crisis, Ukraine, a neighboring country of Belarus, announced on Thursday the deployment of 8,500 additional troops to the border.

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