ROUNDUP / Poland: Larger group of migrants wanted to break through the border at night

BIALOWIEZA / KUZNICA (dpa-AFX) – According to the Polish authorities, a larger group of migrants tried to “violently” break through the border from Belarus to Poland on Thursday night. There were around 150 people, said Poland’s Deputy Interior Minister Bartosz Grodecki on the morning of 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 guards have brought the majority 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.

The EU, on the other hand, speaks of an attack by the authoritarian Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko, who is supposed to fly in migrants from crisis regions and then push them towards the Polish border. “What we are dealing with is a new kind of war. A war in which civilians and media messages are the ammunition,” wrote Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Facebook.

The presumption is that Lukashenko wants revenge for sanctions that the EU has already imposed for the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition. In view of the tense situation around the migrants, Russia said it wanted to help solve the problem, as Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said on Thursday, according to the Interfax agency. Chancellor Angela Merkel had previously asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help. Putin has a direct line to Lukashenko. Russia itself is now threatened with sanctions because of the situation in Belarus.

The situation on the Polish-Belarusian border has deteriorated dramatically since the beginning of the week, when thousands of migrants made their way to the EU from the Belarusian side. On several occasions, larger groups have tried in vain to break through the fence system that Poland uses to prevent them from crossing the border. The EU has launched new sanctions that could be formally adopted early next week.

On Thursday, the situation on the EU’s eastern external border will also concern the UN Security Council. France, Estonia and Ireland requested the meeting of the most powerful UN body for the afternoon (local time) in New York, as the German press agency learned from security council circles. The council is supposed to meet behind closed doors.

Poland’s Interior Ministry, meanwhile, is preparing for increased operations at the border, as Grodecki said. After securing a big march on Independence Day in Poland, more security forces were to be relocated from Warsaw to the border in the evening. Much movement is observed on the Belarusian side of the border. The people would arrive at Kuznica and would then be taken to other places by Belarusian forces, he said./nat/DP/eas

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