Conflict with EU: Lukashenko threatens to stop gas deliveries

Status: 11.11.2021 1:59 p.m.

While the EU is preparing new sanctions against Belarus, the ruler Lukashenko is tightening the tone: At a meeting with the military, he brought up a gas stop. The migrants at the border are still waiting for help.

In the conflict with the EU over migrants in Belarus, the ruler Alexander Lukashenko spoke about a possible stop to gas supplies. “What if we turn off the gas there?” He said in Minsk at a meeting with high-ranking officials, including the military. “We are heating Europe and they are threatening us to close the border,” said Lukashenko.

Part of the important Russian-European pipeline Yamal-Europe runs through Belarus. However, only a small part of the gas is transported from Russia to Europe via the pipeline. The main volumes flow through Ukraine and the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline.

The conflict over thousands of migrants in Belarus on the border with Poland who want to apply for asylum in the EU has been coming to a head for days. In view of the escalation, the European Union is discussing applying new sanctions to Belarus.

Roman Rusch, ARD Brussels, on the influx of refugees on the Polish border

ARD morning magazine, 11.11.2021

Maas: sanction the potash industry

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared in the Bundestag that important branches of the economy such as the potash industry in Belarus “now have to be sanctioned”. The SPD politician also issued a warning to airlines involved in the transport of refugees. From a legal point of view, it is not easy to sanction airlines as well, since they are “not doing anything illegal in terms of formal law”. However, the EU had informed all airlines that the member states were examining ways to hold “accomplices in a smuggling ring” liable.

Lukashenko is criticized for using the migrants as a means of pressure to get an end to the sanctions. He warned Poland against closing the border completely and threatened with consequences. At the same time, he accused Poland of militarizing the conflict.

Poland has stationed thousands of soldiers there to prevent the border fortifications from breaking through. Because of the tense situation, Russian strategic long-range bombers are flying to Belarus for border surveillance. “Yes, these bombers are able to transport nuclear weapons,” said Lukashenko.

Russia, a protective power for Belarus, had recently repeatedly assured military assistance should the situation escalate. Lukashenko claimed there was a risk that Kurds among the migrants could be armed with weapons from the Polish side in order to further escalate the situation.

Near Grodno (Belarus) on the border with Poland, people are queuing for drinking water.

Image: AFP

Poland: Migrants tried to break through border

According to the Polish authorities, a large group of migrants tried to “forcibly” break through the border from Belarus to Poland on Thursday night. There were around 150 people, said Poland’s Deputy Interior Minister Bartosz Grodecki the Polsat News.

The migrants threw objects at soldiers and then tried to destroy the border fence, wrote the Polish Ministry of Defense on Twitter. “Soldiers fired warning shots in the air,” it said. The situation calmed down when border guards and police came to reinforce. The Belarusian border guard brought a large part of the migrants into the forest.

Much of the information from the border area cannot be conclusively verified because independent journalists have so far been denied access.

Meanwhile, the night near the Kuznica border crossing, which has now been closed, remained quiet according to Polish authorities. Thousands of migrants had spent another night on the eastern EU external border with Belarus in makeshift camps in the cold.

State-affiliated Belarusian media published videos of people coughing and bleeding and accused the Polish side of attempting to intimidate them with gunshots.

Lithuania is considering humanitarian corridor

Because of the increasing numbers of migrants on the EU’s eastern external border, Lithuania wants to work to create a humanitarian corridor for migrants willing to return. According to Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Baltic EU country wants to raise the issue at the UN Security Council.

According to this, Lithuania had information that some migrants on the Belarusian side of the border wanted to return to their homeland. Landsbergis said a corridor could be created for them from the border to the Belarusian city of Grodno. There the airport could then be used for evacuation.

At the request of France, Estonia and Ireland, the UN Security Council wants to deal with the situation on the EU’s eastern external border between Poland and Belarus today.

Concerned Neighbor – Ukraine and the Belarusian-Polish Conflict

Andrea Beer, SWR, 11.11.2021 9:20 a.m.

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