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Merkel appeals to Putin to intervene in Belarus border crisis

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Merkel appeals to Putin to intervene in Belarus border crisis

Poland

Merkel appeals to Putin to intervene in Belarus border crisis

Call comes after Polish PM said Russia was behind flow of people from Middle East to EU borders

People at the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region on Monday.

Poland-Belarus border crisis: what is going on and who is to blame?

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Morawiecki said Putin was determined to “rebuild the Russian empire” and called the crisis at the border “a new kind of war, in which people are used as living shields”.

The remarks are the most direct accusations against Russia yet in a crisis where the Kremlin has not played an overt role. Belarusian travel agencies have issued visas and brought hundreds of people from Iraq, Syria and other countries to Minsk, from where they then travel west to try to cross the border and from Poland pass on to Germany. Many of the airlines carrying them are Belarusian or based in the Middle East.

Moscow has been an increasingly crucial ally for Belarus in the past year, backing Lukashenko after his brutal crackdown on protests and after his grounding of a Ryanair flight in May that set off a fresh round of sanctions and pushed Minsk further into isolation.

EU countries have threatened new sanctions and accused Lukashenko of “human trafficking” and “gangster-style” tactics.

On Tuesday, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said western countries including EU member states, and Nato, were the “root” of the crisis.

“They were pushing for a western-style better life and democracy the way it is interpreted by the west,” he said, referring to US-led interventions and alleged western backing for the Arab spring.

Lukashenko and Putin held a phone call to discuss the border crisis on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a military alliance of ex-Soviet states, said it was following the crisis “very closely and with concern”.

“The migrant crisis may evolve into a great disaster for thousands of civilians, including numerous women and children,” the CSTO secretariat said in a statement. Dominated by Moscow, the group is seen as the Kremlin’s answer to Nato.

Earlier, western media reported remarks from a Nato spokesperson that the military alliance “stands ready” to provide help to end the crisis.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the EU was close to imposing more sanctions on Belarus, targeting 30 individuals and entities including the foreign minister and the Belarusian airline Belavia, with approval likely as early as next week.

A German foreign ministry spokesperson said EU foreign ministers planned to expand sanctions at a meeting on Monday, including against third-country states providing assistance to Belarus’s trafficking plans. A “great bandwidth of measures” is being considered.

Asked whether Germany would take in migrants unilaterally, Merkel’s spokesman said the question was “irrelevant”.

A spokesperson for the German interior ministry said if Belarus did not provide humanitarian aid, then the European Union needed to do so, not just one member state.

Additional reporting by Philip Oltermann

Topics

  • Poland
  • Belarus
  • Lithuania
  • Russia
  • Vladimir Putin
  • Alexander Lukashenko
  • European Union
  • news
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Published at Wed, 10 Nov 2021 13:29:42 +0000

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/10/polish-pm-blames-vladimir-putin-for-belarus-border-crisis

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