The Polish-Belarusian border is restless: yesterday's morning, hundreds, maybe even thousands of migrants from the Middle East moved towards the Polish border in Kuznitsa. The column was accompanied by armed Belarusian officers. After that, the crowd began to storm the border and the situation escalated. The Polish military tried to somehow interfere with hundreds of people and used tear gas. The Polish authorities are afraid of provocations that may end in human casualties.
Attempts to break through the border
Oppositionist Franak Vyachorka said that an armed convoy (presumably the Belarusian Border Committee) accompanied the migrants to the Belarusian-Polish border, Gazeta Wyborcza reports.
There is also a video in which Belarusian security forces with machine guns push migrants (women and children) to the Polish side, they shout and break out.
Ok, this is the
most disturbing border video I’ve seen so far. Lukashenko’s armed thugs
dressed like ISIS militants are quite literally pushing women and
children over the Polish border fence and forming a human shield to
prevent them from returning to Belarus. Please RT! pic.twitter.com/WzvpLmHzhz
Ok, this is the most disturbing border video I’ve seen so far. Lukashenko’s armed thugs dressed like ISIS militants are quite literally pushing women and children over the Polish border fence and forming a human shield to prevent them from returning to Belarus. Please RT! pic.twitter.com/WzvpLmHzhz— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) November 7, 2021
Poland is not going to accept illegal migrants. Traffic at the checkpoint in Kuznitsa has been suspended. A column of armored vehicles is marching along the border, police and military men with shields (12 thousand in total) are also patrolling, and Polish helicopters are circling above them.
“We are increasing the readiness of our forces in response to the aggressive actions of the Belarusian side - escorting thousands of people to the Polish border,” said Marek Petrzak, spokesman for the Territorial Defense Forces.
Migrants make their first attempts to break through the border, try to demolish a fence with barbed wire using felled trees and throw stones at border guards, Straż Graniczna reports.
Polish services used tear gas to prevent an attempt to break through near the Kuznitsa. The situation is under control.
In one of the videos from the border, one can hear a migrant from the Belarusian side shouting to the Polish police: "Germany, Germany!"
The Polish Ministry of Defense published a video showing a masked man using professional equipment to cut the mesh on the Polish-Belarusian border.
Migrants are not allowed to enter the shopping centers in Minsk
On the streets of Minsk, more and more refugees are waiting to be sent to the border. According to the Belarusian telegram channel NEXTA, the majority of migrants are Kurds who came to Belarus from Iraq, as well as citizens of Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.
From the Middle East, 50 flights a week are planned. Die Welt newspaper wrote that the number of flights to Belarus from the Middle East has doubled - up to 40 aircraft per week. They fly to Minsk from Dubai, Istanbul and Damascus. Recently, the Belarusian authorities were supposed to rename five more internal airports into international ones, in order to enable more aircraft to land. One of these airports is located in Grodno, the other is in Brest, near the border with Poland. Additional planes carrying migrants are to land at these airports.
The media reported on Operation Gateway - the movement of undocumented people to the European Union.
Shopping centers and metro stations in Minsk do not allow migrants to pass; many freeze on the street at 0 degrees Celsius. They have nowhere to go to keep warm.
The reaction of Poland and the EU
Every person on the Belarusian side in the area of the Polish telecom operator receives an SMS in 5 languages (English, Arabic, Russian, French and Polish) that the Polish border is guarded and illegal border crossing is a crime. Border guards inform migrants through a megaphone that punishment is provided for an illegal violation.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki commented on the attempts to storm the border:
"The border of the Polish state is not just a line on the map. This border is sacred, the blood of generations of Poles has been shed to defend it," Morawiecki wrote.
The Polish Foreign Ministry accused Belarus of trying to arrange a provocation with shooting and casualties.
The European Union has accused Belarus of encouraging migrants as a form of hybrid war in retaliation for Western sanctions against Minsk over human rights violations.
This is not the first incident with an influx of migrants from Belarus. Earlier, similar cases occurred on the border with Lithuania in August: refugees began to cross the border with Lithuania en masse, as a result of which resources for the construction of temporary camps ran out.
NATO calls on Belarus to comply with the law
PAP quotes a statement from NATO headquarters in Brussels on the border crisis:
“We are concerned about the recent escalation of the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. We are witnessing a wave of migrants trying to enter the territory of the allies through Belarus. NATO continues to closely monitor the situation, which is putting pressure on our allies, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland,” NATO said.
The headquarters added that "the use of migrants by the Lukashenko regime as a hybrid tactic is unacceptable." Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is in close contact with the governments of the allied countries on this issue.
Explanations of Belarus
The State Border Committee of Belarus confirmed that the column of migrants is heading to the border with Poland, adding that the Belarusian border guards, in this regard, "serve in a reinforced version at checkpoints." The committee said Warsaw was showing "inhuman attitude".