Polish PM accuses Putin of masterminding Belarus migrant 'attack'

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating a wave of migrants trying to illegally enter Poland from Belarus, saying the "attack" threatens to destabilize the European Union.

The accusation came as thousands of desperate migrants were trapped in freezing weather on the Belarus-Poland border, where the presence of troops from both sides has raised fears of a confrontation.

Western critics have for months said Belarus's strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko is luring migrants from the Middle East to his country and then sending them across the border in retaliation for EU sanctions.

Morawiecki visited guards, troops and police at the border on Nov. 9 before turning his sights on Russia, Belarus's main international backer.

"This attack which Lukashenko is conducting has its mastermind in Moscow, the mastermind is President Putin," Morawiecki told the Polish parliament.

He said migrants were being used as "human shields to destabilize the situation in Poland and the EU".

Germany, which accused Lukashenko of "unscrupulously" exploiting migrants by sending them to the Polish border, called on Nov. 10 for new EU sanctions against Belarus.

"Lukashenko must realize that his calculations are not working," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. "The European Union cannot be blackmailed."

EU diplomats told AFP the bloc was working to expand the existing sanctions. The EU said it was also pushing more than a dozen countries, mainly in the Middle East and Africa, to prevent their nationals from leaving for Belarus.

The EU accuses Lukashenko of trying to destabilize the EU by encouraging migrants to its borders - especially Poland and Lithuania - in...

Continue reading on: