East EU Accuses Belarus of Using Migrants in ‘Hybrid Attack’
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s eastern members called on their counterparts for an immediate diplomatic, financial and technical support in response to what they called “a hybrid attack” by Belarus.
Since May, when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he would retaliate against EU sanctions and efforts by Poland and Lithuania to help his pro-democratic political rivals who fled last year’s post-election crackdown, the number of illegal migrants crossing his country’s border into the bloc has surged.
More than 2,000 undocumented people mostly from the Middle East and Afghanistan have come into Poland in the last month alone. With the unexpectedly rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban raising the prospect of a new migrant wave, EU states neighboring Belarus issued a joint declaration and plea for assistance.
“The use of immigrants to destabilize neighboring countries is a clear violation of international law and qualifies as a hybrid attack against Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, and thus against the entire European Union,” they said in the declaration on Monday. “It is clear to us that the current crisis was planned and systematically organized by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.”
Signed by the leaders of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, the declaration called for United Nations authorities to look into the migrant situation in Belarus and force the country to take responsibility for arrivals on its territory.
“The use of refugees and immigrants as weapons poses a threat to the regional security of the European Union and is a gross violation of human rights,” they said.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced on Twitter his nation intends to build a “new, solid” 2.5-meter-high fence on border with Belarus and deploy additional military personnel to help its border guard.
“That’s also the border of the EU and our countries are obliged to defend it,”
Michal Dworczyk, the head of the Polish prime minister’s chancellery, told reporters.
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