Poland rages at hybrid war against EU – fears migrant influx to spark new border crisis

Belarus: Expert discusses ‘influx’ of migrants to Lithuania

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A Polish minister said Minsk was retaliating against Warsaw’s decision to offer political asylum to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, after she refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics. Deputy interior minister said Belarus was “waging a hybrid war with the European Union with the help of illegal migrants”. Fellow EU member state Lithuania has issued the same warning after a surge in illegal border crossings from Belarus.

It was claimed that Minsk was deliberately flying in migrants from abroad, including Iraq, Iran and Africa, before dispatching them into the bloc.

Mr Wasik said: “There are both young men and women with children.

“Belarus issuing these immigrants as a living weapon.

“In recent days, we have seen an increase in migrants.

“We treat it as a reaction to the granting of asylum to the Belarusian sprinter.”

Ms Tsimanouskaya refused to travel home from Tokyo after hitting out at Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

The incident further increased tensions between Minsk and the West.

The EU has previously accused President Lukashenko, who is considered Europe’s last dictator, of pushing illegal migrants to hit back against the bloc’s sanctions against his regime.

President Lukashenko this week accused Lithuania and Poland of fuelling the migrant crisis on the border.

He said Vilnius was driving migrants back into Belarusian territory by force.

In May, Belarus decided to let migrants enter Lithuania unchallenged in retaliation for EU sanctions after Minsk hijacked a Ryanair flight and forced it to land on its soil in order to arrest a dissident journalist.

At the time, President Lukashenko declared Belarus would not become a “holding site” for migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

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The Polish Border Guard reportedly detained a group of 71 migrants on the border with Belarus during the night rom Wednesday to Thursday.

Another group of 62, mostly Iraqis, were picked up on Wednesday.

That is more than the total 122 illegal migrants that were detained by the Polish authorities along the border in the whole of 2020.

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Last month, a total of 242 migrants were intercepted.

Mr Wasik said migrants arriving recently had mainly been from Iraq but also Afghanistan.

The EU has summoned Belarus’ envoy in Brussels and held talks with the Iraqi government over the issue of illegal migration to the bloc.

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