the essential Russian President Vladimir Poutin rejected this Saturday 000 this November the accusations according to which Moscow was at the origin of the current migration crisis on the border between Belarus and Poland, where thousands of migrants have been massed for days.
“We have nothing to do with this”
“I want everyone to know that. We have nothing to do with this,” the president said in a television interview. “We must not forget where these crises involving migrants come from … Western countries themselves, including European countries”.
To read also: Poland accuses Putin of orchestrating the migration crisis
During a meeting in Moscow this week, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov and his Belarusian counterpart had already affirmed that the flows of migrants were provoked by Western military interventions in the Middle East.
Vladimir Putin said that European leaders should address Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko directly to resolve this crisis, which they are reluctant to do since the historic protest following his re-election in 2020.
“From what I understand, Alexander Lukashenko and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel are ready to talk to each other,” said Vladimir Poutine. The migrants, mostly Iraqi Kurds, have been stranded for days on the eastern border of Europe, in the cold, making a living in makeshift camps and burning wood for warmth.
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According to Belarus, some 2. 000 people are there, including pregnant women and children. Warsaw claims that there are between 3. 000 and 4. 000 migrants at the border, and new people arrive daily.
A delivery of aid to migrants by Belarusians
Their situation worries, temperatures plunging over the days. Poland denies them entry and accuses Belarus of preventing them from leaving the area. The Belarusian authorities for their part announced on Saturday the delivery of aid to migrants, including tents, water, firewood and a generator, which could perpetuate this site at the gates of the EU.
Migrants have been trying to reach the European Union from Belarus for several months, but the situation changed when, on Monday, hundreds of them attempted to cross en masse and were turned away by Polish border guards. Since then, new sporadic attempts to cross the border have taken place. Polish police said on Saturday the body of a young Syrian man was found in a forest near the border, with the cause of death not yet determinable.
A group of around 100 people tried to cross the border in this area overnight, the source said. This death pushes up to eleven the number of migrants found dead on both sides of the border since the crisis began this summer, according to NGOs.
The EU accuses the Belarusian president of having organized the arrival of migrants in order to avenge the Western sanctions against his regime, since the brutal repression of a movement contesting his re-election in 2020. Alexander Lukashenko has held the country with an iron fist for almost three decades.
New European sanctions planned
New European sanctions “will be decided and applied”, for his part indicated the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, in the French daily Le Figaro of Saturday.
In the crosshairs, in particular, the Belarusian airline company Belavia, accused of having transported groups of migrants to Minsk, in particular from Istanbul.
To read also: Can Belarus really cause a gas shortage in Europe?
Brussels on Friday hailed “progress” in efforts to stem the influx of migrants after Turkey banned Iraqis, Syrians and Yemenis from boarding Belarus from its soil.
Turkey has also rejected any responsibility for the crisis, the spokesman for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, telling AFP on Saturday that blaming Ankara would be “” misguided and out of place. “On the Polish-Belarusian border, the situation remains tense, with thousands of troops deployed on both sides.
Russia shows its support for Belarus, but seems reluctant to get too involved. Vladimir Putin thus dissociated himself on Saturday from threats from his Belarusian counterpart this week to interrupt Russian gas deliveries to Europe via the gas pipeline passing through his country. “Honestly, this is the first time that I heard that”, indicated the Russian president “He never told me about it (…) He could probably do it, but it would not be good”