Poland and Latvia today expressed concern about the Russian-Belarusian military exercises to be held jointly on the western Belarusian border on September 10.
Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have closed their eastern borders after several thousand people, including people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo and Cameroon, entered their countries, crossing Belarus through dense forest, Reuters reports.
The European Union has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of blackmailing and risking the lives of migrants due to the EU’s political revenge after imposing sanctions on Belarus.
“What is happening in Belarus is a hybrid attack on our borders where basically the state kidnaps people, grants them visas and then pushes them to the border area,” Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks told the European Parliament.
Polish Ambassador to the EU Andrzej Sados said Lukashenko was testing the Union and warned that the situation could become more tense due to military exercises that should start on September 10.
“Some of the elements of the exercises will be carried out close to the EU borders, and that creates an additional risk of incidents,” Andrzej Sados said.
The European Union has become increasingly restrictive in terms of migration since it was flooded with refugees in 2015.
“We need not only the coordination of the EU, but also the support, including the possibility of new sanctions, because our borders are threatened,” said Pabriks.
Lithuania’s deputy foreign minister also called for an extension of sanctions on Belarus, including restricting access to international financial markets for the Belarusian airline Belaviu.
Belarus announced last month that thousands of soldiers, tanks, artillery and aircraft will participate in the exercises.
Annual military exercises often annoy Western countries, but this year the situation is more tense due to migration problems, Reuters estimates.
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