Accessibility links

Breaking News

Poland Calls Belarus Migrant Crisis 'Greatest Attempt To Destabilize' Europe In Decades


Migrants in Belarus at a camp near the Polish border. (file photo)

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called the migrant crisis along the Belarus-Polish border the "greatest attempt to destabilize Europe" since the Cold War and warned that the worst could be yet to come.

Morawiecki posted on Twitter on November 21 that Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has launched a "hybrid war" against the European Union.

The same day, Poland reported an attempt by about 100 "very aggressive" would-be migrants to cross the border.

Speaking as he toured the situation in Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia on November 21, Morawiecki acknowledged a new survey showing that a majority of Poles are worried that the migrant crisis could escalate into armed conflict.

"I think that the things that unfold before our eyes, these dramatic events, may only be a prelude to something much worse," Morawiecki said.

Morawiecki suggested that a controversial Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, as well as the Russian military's presence in Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad exclave along the Polish border could "be used directly for a direct attack."

Morawiecki also said the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban retook control in August, "may be used as the next stage of the migration crisis."

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said after meeting with Morawiecki that "for us, it is very important that any talks (with Belarus) are coordinated with Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia, which are at the forefront of the hybrid attack."

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on November 20 that Belarus was directing small groups of migrants to attempt crossings simultaneously at multiple points.

The West has accused Lukashenka of "weaponizing migration" by bringing would-be migrants to Belarus and encouraging them to try to cross the border into Poland.

Belarus has denied the accusation and has criticized the EU for not accepting the migrants.

In an interview with the BBC on November 19, Lukashenka acknowledged that it is "absolutely possible" that his security forces had assisted migrants but denied that his government had brought them to Belarus.

"I didn't invite them here," he said.

Poland says at least 11 would-be migrants have died since the crisis began during the summer.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL

    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.

XS
SM
MD
LG