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InvestmentsRussia and NATO weigh in as crisis mounts on Belarus-Poland border By...

Russia and NATO weigh in as crisis mounts on Belarus-Poland border By Reuters

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© Reuters. A Polish soldier instals barbed wire on the Poland/Belarus border close to Kuznica, Poland, in this {photograph} launched by the Polish Defence Ministry, November 9, 2021. Irek Dorozanski/DWOT/Handout by way of REUTERS

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By Dmitry Antonov and Robin Emmott

MOSCOW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union accused Belarus on Wednesday of mounting a “hybrid attack” by pushing migrants throughout the border into Poland, paving the way in which for widened sanctions in opposition to Minsk in a crisis that threatens to attract in Russia and NATO.

Russia took the uncommon step of dispatching two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace in a present of assist for its shut ally. Poland briefed fellow NATO allies at a closed-door assembly and they pledged their assist, an alliance official mentioned.

Migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa trapped in Belarus made a number of makes an attempt to power their means into Poland in a single day, Warsaw mentioned, saying that it had bolstered the border with further guards.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet known as on states to de-escalate and resolve the “intolerable” crisis.

“These hundreds of men, women and children must not be forced to spend another night in freezing weather without adequate shelter, food, water and medical care,” she mentioned.

The EU, which has repeatedly sanctioned Belarus for human rights abuses, accuses Minsk of luring migrants from war-torn and impoverished international locations and then pushing them to cross into Poland to attempt to sow violent chaos on the bloc’s japanese flank.

“We are facing a brutal hybrid attack on our EU borders. Belarus is weapon migrants’ distress in a cynical and shocking way,” EU Council President Charles Michel mentioned.

The bloc’s 27 ambassadors agreed this constituted a authorized foundation for additional sanctions, which may come as early as subsequent week and goal some 30 people and entities together with the Belarusian overseas minister and the nationwide airline.

“Very rapidly at the beginning of next week there will be a widening of the sanctions against Belarus,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen advised reporters after a gathering with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington.

“We will look into the possibility of sanctioning those airlines who facilitate human trafficking towards Minsk and then the EU-Belarus border,” she added.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have pinned the blame on the EU.

The Kremlin accused Europe of failing to dwell as much as its personal humanitarian beliefs and making an attempt to “strangle” Belarus with plans to shut a part of the frontier. Moscow mentioned it was unacceptable for the EU to impose sanctions on Belarus over the crisis.

PRESSURE POINT

The crisis strikes the EU in a weak space.

In 2015, the bloc was deeply shaken by an inflow of over one million individuals fleeing battle in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan that led to deep rifts between member states, strained social safety methods and fanned assist for far-right events.

The EU seems extra united this time however there are indicators of inside friction: some in Brussels have warned Poland that it mustn’t use EU funds to erect border partitions and razor wire whereas others argue the bloc wants to assist defend its borders. Michel mentioned on Wednesday the EU wanted to make up its thoughts.

Compared with 2015, the present crisis has an added geopolitical dimension as it’s unfolding on the dividing line between NATO to the west and Russia-allied Belarus to the east.

The Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers that Russia despatched to overfly Belarus are able to carrying nuclear missiles, together with hypersonic ones of the sort designed to evade refined Western air defences.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mentioned he hoped accountable Europeans would “not allow themselves to be drawn into a spiral that is fairly dangerous”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Putin to place strain on Belarus, a German authorities spokesperson mentioned. The Kremlin mentioned Putin advised her the EU ought to discuss on to Belarus.

STRANDED FAMILIES

Thousands of individuals have converged on the border this week, the place makeshift razor wire fences and Polish troopers have repeatedly blocked their entry. Some of the migrants have used logs, spades and different implements to attempt to break by.

“It was not a calm night. Indeed, there were many attempts to breach the Polish border,” Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak advised broadcaster PR1.

Video from the border obtained by Reuters confirmed younger kids and infants among the many individuals caught there.

“There are lots of families here with babies between two and four months old. They have not eaten anything for the past three days,” the one that offered the video advised Reuters, saying they have been a migrant themselves and declining to be recognized.

Some migrants have complained of being repeatedly pushed again and forth by Polish and Belarusian border guards, placing them prone to hypothermia, lack of meals and water.

Reuters discovered ripped up tickets from Middle Eastern airways, paperwork from vacationer businesses and receipts in the forest close to the Polish city of Hajnowka at what gave the impression to be an deserted camp web site.

Poland’s prime minister mentioned the EU wanted to dam flights from the Middle East to Belarus.

Poland denies accusations by humanitarian teams that it’s violating the worldwide proper to asylum by hustling migrants again into Belarus as an alternative of accepting their functions for defense. Warsaw says its actions are authorized.

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