Accessibility links

Breaking News

U.K. To Send Army Engineers To Poland Amid 'Migration Pressure' From Belarus

A Polish soldier keeps watch on the Belarusian border with Poland, which has come under increasing migratory pressure in recent months.
A Polish soldier keeps watch on the Belarusian border with Poland, which has come under increasing migratory pressure in recent months.

Britain says it will send 140 military engineers to NATO ally Poland this month to provide support at its border with Belarus, where the West says Minsk is orchestrating on ongoing migration crisis.

Specialists from the 32 Engineer Regiment will work with the Polish military at the border with Belarus, including providing "infrastructure support," the Defense Ministry said in a statement on December 9.

Belarus is engaged in a bitter diplomatic standoff with the West over authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka's crackdown on dissent since a disputed presidential election last year, and what the EU has called his "weaponization" of mainly Middle Eastern migrants to create a crisis on Belarus's border with Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Minsk denies EU accusations that it engineered the crisis to destabilize the entire 27-member bloc in retaliation for sanctions imposed for human rights abuses.

The British Defense Ministry said the deployment of the military engineers in Poland is expected to last until April 2022.

The troops are in addition to the 150 British personnel already based in Poland as part of NATO's enhanced forward presence in the region.

A “reconnaissance team” has also been deployed in Lithuania to "explore whether the UK can provide support to the nation who are facing similar pressures on their border,” according to the British ministry.

"Poland and Lithuania, along with their Baltic neighbor Latvia, have been under significant pressure from migration originating from Belarus and facilitated by the [Lukashenka] regime for a number of months," the statement said.

Estonia has also decided to send about 100 troops to Poland, while the Czech government earlier this week approved the deployment of up to 150 soldiers to the country.

The EU has passed sanctions on Lukashenka's regime over its brutal crackdown on the country's pro-democracy movement in the wake of the August 2020 disputed election.

Last week, the bloc imposed a fifth round of sanctions, aiming at individuals and entities thought to be responsible for participating in a “hybrid attack” on the bloc using migrants.

  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.