Poland has bolstered security on its eastern border while accusing Belarus of wanting to create a “major incident” by helping migrants attempt to enter the country, Reuters reports.
The European Union has blamed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime for retaliating against sanctions imposed by the West by escorting and encouraging migrants from the Middle East to cross over into Europe through the country.
Belarusian media videos released Monday showed armed Belarusian border guards in uniform leading a large group from the border town of Bruzgi toward a forest that is close to Poland’s Podlaskie region.
“Belarus wants to cause a major incident, preferably with shots fired and casualties: according to media reports, they are preparing a major provocation near Kuznica Bialostocka, that there will be an attempt at a mass border crossing,” Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk told Polish media, according to Reuters.
Poland’s Ministry of Defense also posted a video that showed a large group of migrants congregated near the border fence in Kuźnica, in northeastern Poland.
They also tweeted a video that shows an attempted crossing by the migrants and said that after the mass attempt to cross earlier on Monday, migrants have now set up a camp near Kuźnica where they are “constantly guarded by the Belarusian services.”
Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have all said they’ve seen a spike in the number of people trying to enter illegally from Belarus in recent months.
Grupa migrantów znajduje się obecnie w okolicach Kuźnicy pic.twitter.com/w5VxXp9QqQ
— Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej (@MON_GOV_PL) November 8, 2021
Poland’s Interior Ministry posted a video of Polish forces at the border and said in a tweet on Monday that it had “prevented the migrants’ attempt” to gain illegal entry into the country.
PILNE | Polskie służby udaremniły próbę siłowego przedarcia się na polską stronę przez migrantów na południe od przejścia granicznego w Kuźnicy. Sytuacja została opanowana. pic.twitter.com/iJNvufd524
— MSWiA (@MSWiA_GOV_PL) November 8, 2021
However Anton Bychkovsky, spokesman for Belarus’ State Border Guard Committee, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the migrants at the border between Belarus and Poland are seeking to “exercise their right to apply for refugee status in the EU.”
He added that they “are not a security threat” and “are not behaving aggressively.”
The BBC reported that many migrants have found themselves at the mercy of the elements and some have died from hypothermia once barred from Poland, as Belarus refuses to take them back.