Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on state television: “You bastards, you idiots, you want me to protect you from immigrants?” By this statement he was referring to the European Union. They accuse Lukashenko of deliberately bringing migrants from crisis countries to his country, and then allowing them to travel through Poland to the European Union.
It concerns several thousand men, women and children trapped on the border between the two countries. On the Polish side, they are faced with military reinforcements that prevent them from entering Europe. On the Belarusian side, armed men with dogs can be seen preventing the crowd from turning away. Migrants live in poor conditions, have little food and no protection from the bitter cold at night. Many people tried to cut the barbed wire and some lost their lives. The United Nations described the situation as “unbearable”. They demand “immediate” access to humanitarian aid.
“I am appalled that on the Belarus-Poland border, a large number of migrants and refugees remain in a desperate situation, with temperatures close to freezing,” said Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “They should not be forced to spend another night in a very cold climate, without proper shelter, food, water and medical care.”
I urge the countries concerned to take immediate measures to resolve this intolerable situation, in accordance with their obligations under international human rights and refugee law.
The situation has escalated sharply in recent days. Not much has changed for the immigrants, but the countries involved have been throwing a lot of mud at each other in the meantime. Lukashenko, for example, threatened in an interview with the magazine Natsionalnaya Oborona that provocations could lead to an “active phase”. That is why he referred to Russia’s ally. “If we make the slightest mistake here, God forbid, then Russia – the largest nuclear power in the world – will participate immediately!”
Russia immediately showed which side they are. They sent two booby-trapped bombers to the area on Wednesday. They patrolled the border. Russia’s move, in turn, came in response to the European Commission threatening to impose new sanctions on Belarus. For example, they want to make it more difficult to issue visas to senior executives and are also considering a blacklist of airlines that fly migrants to the Belarusian capital.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also referred to Russia on Tuesday evening. The mastermind behind Lukashenko’s attack is Moscow. The mastermind, he said, is President Putin. Morawiecki said Putin was determined to “rebuild the Russian Empire” and described the crisis on the border as “a new kind of war in which people are used as living shields”.
European President Michel flew to Warsaw on Wednesday to meet with the Polish prime minister. On Wednesday, he also said he wanted to discuss the situation at the border. “Europe has already taken sanctions, but they clearly do not make a great impression on the dictator” (Alexander Lukashenko, editor)Morawiecki said after the meeting. Michel is said to have spoken of a “mixed attack”, while Morawiecki refers to “state terrorism”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also participated in the discussion. During a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, she asked to use his influence on Belarus to find a solution. The German government announced this on Wednesday. A government spokesman said Merkel described the situation as an “absolutely inhuman and unacceptable practice”.
Meanwhile, more and more voices within the EU are calling for money to be invested in border infrastructure at the respective borders. Michel has already indicated that it is possible that the European Union will finance this. In this context, he referred to an opinion issued by the Council’s legal department. “The European Commission will have to decide on this, but I have the impression that we should clarify what is possible and what is not.” Some member states are already talking openly about building a border wall.