How Belarus could destabilise the entire EU by creating a ‘hybrid war’

Belarus: Lukashenko says UK ‘can choke’ on new sanctions

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The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is reportedly forcing migrants into Poland at gunpoint in an attempt to create a new route into the European Union. Lukashenko has pledged to use the migrant crisis and huge influx of refugees from Afghanistan as a tool of political reprisal against EU sanctions, which were enforced in June after months of alleged human rights violations in Belarus.

In a joint declaration, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia accused Belarus of using the migrants as part of a “hybrid war” with the “goal of exerting political pressure on the EU”.

The three nations have seen a sharp influx in the number of asylum-seekers crossing their borders in recent weeks.

Both Lithuania and Latvia have declared a state of emergency over the issue, while Poland’s president has called for action to protect the EU’s external borders.

Shocking reports have now emerged of Belarusian forces herding refugees on planks of wood over river borders into Poland at gunpoint.

The migrants have reported being trucked into the area near Usnarz Gorny, a village in eastern Poland, by Belarusians in balaclavas who wouldn’t tell them where they were going.

One group is said to still be there, living in appalling conditions.

Other migrants who made it through to Poland told lawyers they were threatened with guns if they refused to walk the border.

Anna Alboth, 37, from the charity Minority Rights Group, said: “They said they could not resist the guards, who always carried large guns.”

Locals in the area said migrants were given planks to help them cross the small Swislocz river, while Belarusians fired shots into the air behind them to hurry them along.

In neighbouring Lithuania, 12 Belarusian officers in riot gear allegedly entered its territory as they tried to force another group of migrants across the border.

Other migrants who have made it through said that they had been beaten, according to Kalina Czwarnog, who is working in the area with the human rights foundation Ocalenie.

One Afghan group has been surrounded by Polish forces who have allegedly refused to act on their claims for asylum, with some sent back across the border.

Ms Czwarnog said: “These people are being bounced across the border like ping-pong balls.”

Maciej Konieczny, a Polish MP from the Left party, used his parliamentary immunity to hand over sleeping bags to the group this week.

He said: “When we found them they had not had food for 24 hours, they were drinking water from a stream and trying to eat from shrubs.

“They could not even go to relieve themselves.”

The Polish defence minister accused Belarus of working with Russia to destabilise the region.

He called the influx of migrants a “dirty game of Lukashenko and the Kremlin”.

Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said: “Letting these people into Poland is not the solution.”

He said it would cause “tens of thousands” more to come.

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