Nov 09, 2021 14:05 UTC
  • Belarus, Poland trade barbs over attempted crossings of asylum seekers

Belarus has condemned Polish accusations of coordinating an unprecedented wave of asylum seekers attempting to illegally cross into Poland as “unfounded”, warning against “any provocations” directed against Minsk.

Poland on Monday banned hundreds of asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East, from illegally entering the central European country from neighboring Belarus, and warned of an "armed" escalation with thousands of stranded migrants near the border.

Warsaw claimed that Minsk was coordinating the migrant influx, saying the border crisis threatens the security of the entire European Union (EU).

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki issued the warning after visiting the border.

“Sealing the Polish border is our national interest. But today the stability and security of the entire EU is at stake,” he wrote on his Twitter on Tuesday.

Belarus, however, rejected the allegations that it was coordinating the attempted crossings.

The Belarusian defense ministry in a statement on Tuesday said it considers the accusations of the Polish side “unfounded and unsubstantiated", accusing Warsaw of "deliberately" escalating tensions.

The ministry said Poland had sent 10,000 military personnel to the border, while joint security agreements stipulate that observers should be present at any deployment of more than 6,000 troops.

“We would like to warn the Polish side in advance against any provocations directed against the Republic of Belarus to justify illegal use of force against disadvantaged, unarmed people, among whom there are many children and women,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, Belarusian Interior Minister Ivan Kubrakov told the state-run news agency Belta that the migrants were in the former Soviet country "legally," stressing that “there have been no violations of the law on the part of migrants so far.”