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Belarus accuses EU of 'provoking' migrant stand-off at Poland border

Thousands of migrants have been trying to illegally enter the country and are now trapped on the border.

Migrants are seen at a tent camp on the Belarusian-Polish border
Migrants are seen at a tent camp on the Belarusian-Polish border
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Nov 10th 2021, 10:27 AM

THE FOREIGN MINISTER of Belarus has accused the EU of “provoking” a migrant stand-off on its border with Poland and said Minsk was seeking a “joint response” to the crisis with Russia.

“The migrant crisis was provoked by the EU itself and its states that border Belarus,” Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said on a visit to Moscow.

He added that Belarus was hoping for “mutual support” from neighbouring Russia, “including a joint response regarding unfriendly actions against our country”.

Hundreds of desperate migrants are trapped in freezing temperatures on the border and the presence of troops from both sides has raised fears of a confrontation.

Western critics have for months accused the Belarusian regime of luring migrants from the Middle East to Belarus to send them across the border to the European Union in retaliation for sanctions.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the talks accused the West of an “anti-Belarusian campaign” orchestrated by Washington and European allies including within international organisations like the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe.

He said efforts to counter it had been effective and that Russian and Belarus had “closely coordinated our approaches”.

“We diverted attempts to use these multilateral platforms to the detriment of the interests of our two states,” Lavrov said.

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The EU’s relationship with Minsk has deteriorated sharply since August last year when Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on anti-government protesters in the wake of elections the opposition said were rigged.

Western countries have imposed a range of sanctions over the crackdown and say they are considering new action over the migrant crisis.

Russia has buttressed Lukashenko’s regime with security guarantees and large loans to aid the struggling Belarusian economy.

- © AFP 2021

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