Estonia and Great Britain send soldiers to Poland

Status: 11/19/2021 2:29 p.m.

Estonia and Great Britain are sending soldiers to Poland to provide support during the crisis on the Belarusian border. Chancellor Merkel called the situation “worrying” and promised support to the UN refugee agency.

Estonia is helping Poland cope with the crisis on the EU’s eastern external border with Belarus. The Baltic EU country will send around 100 members of its armed forces to Warsaw at the request of the government. Among them are pioneers and military police, said the Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet in Tallinn. The units therefore consist of regular soldiers, reservists and conscripts.

Use of drones planned

According to an Estonian military spokesman, an advance detachment is due to leave for Poland at the weekend, and the main units are due to arrive in the coming week. Estonia will also help Poland develop intelligence skills. According to Estonian media reports, drones will also be deployed for this purpose.

According to Laneets, Poland asked the Tallinn government for assistance on Monday evening. “Before they only wanted political support, but now they need practical help. As far as I know, only Great Britain has given Poland practical support so far,” said the defense minister of the Baltic EU and NATO country.

British should help with border security

The British government also announced that it would send soldiers to Poland. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the BBC that pioneers would be sent to provide technical support.

From circles of the Ministry of Defense in London it was said that around 100 soldiers should be deployed. The details of the operation have yet to be determined and approved by parliament.

Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak had said after a meeting with Wallace on Thursday that Great Britain had already proposed in October that a company of engineers could support Poland’s security forces on the border with Belarus. “On November 11th, a British reconnaissance group traveled to Poland, talked to our soldiers and visited the border,” said Blaszczak.

As Blaszczak also announced, the British soldiers should primarily repair the border fortifications, but also take care of the access roads along the border.

More arrests

Meanwhile, Polish border guards arrested 45 more migrants on the border with Belarus. A spokeswoman for the authority said that they tried to cross the border on Thursday evening. A group of around 500 people from the Belarusian side threw stones at Polish officials and sprayed tear gas. At the same time, “Belarusian officials” tried to blind their Polish colleagues with lasers.

“The Belarusian side is supplying the migrants with tear gas,” said the spokeswoman. Four Polish soldiers were injured, but did not have to be hospitalized. According to the spokeswoman, the arrested have been asked to “leave Poland”. In total, the border guards recorded 255 attempts to cross the border on Thursday.

At her meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the situation as “worrying”. In view of the Russian troop deployment on the Ukrainian border and the refugee crisis on the Belarusian border with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, there is a “need for discussion,” said Merkel, before she withdrew to talks with Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg condemned the “inhuman” behavior of the Belarusian leadership who used “innocent people”.

Merkel assures UNHCR support

Merkel promised the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) support in their relief efforts in Belarus. Merkel spoke with UN Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi, the High and IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino about the situation of migrants in Belarus, the German government announced.

Thousands of refugees from the Middle East have been stuck on the EU’s external border with Belarus, especially on the border with Poland, for weeks. The EU accuses Lukashenko of deliberately smuggling the refugees into the border area in order to put the EU under pressure. The situation on the border has recently been extremely tense. Poland has erected a border fence and has gathered more than 15,000 security guards there.

The number of unauthorized entries has risen sharply

The Federal Police published new figures on unauthorized entries with a connection to Belarus. Accordingly, their number was more than 2000 in the first half of November alone. According to the Federal Police Headquarters, there were unauthorized entries until November 18, 2020, mostly across the German-Polish border.

In the whole of 2021, there have been 9861 unauthorized entries so far. From January to July, the federal police only found a total of 26 unauthorized persons with a connection to Belarus who had entered the country without permission.

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