Poland accused Belarus on Monday of planning a “major provocation” by encouraging a large group of migrants to cross the Polish border, in an incident reminiscent of Turkey’s attempt to destabilize Greece and the EU in March 2020.
“Belarus wants to cause a major incident, preferably with shots fired and casualties,” Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk told Polish public radio.
His statement came after the Polish Defense Ministry published a video of the migrant group nearing the border town of Kuznica.
Grupa migrantów znajduje się obecnie w okolicach Kuźnicy pic.twitter.com/w5VxXp9QqQ
— Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej 🇵🇱 (@MON_GOV_PL) November 8, 2021
Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for the ministry coordinating Poland’s intelligence agencies, said the group is preparing to enter Poland “en masse.”
He also claimed the migrants were “under a strict control of Belarusian armed units who decide which way the group can or can’t go.”
The Belarusian opposition news outlet NEXTA said most of the migrants were Iraqi Kurds, and that the group included many women and children.
#Belarusian military with dogs drove migrants off the road into the forest
They did not reach the checkpoint.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) November 8, 2021
Belarus follows Turkey’s example against Greece
Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko is seemingly following on the steps of Turkey’s President Tayyip Recep Erdogan who in March 2020 encouraged thousands of migrants to march towards the Greek border at Evros.
For days, Greek police and military forces were trying to prevent the migrants from crossing illegally into Greece. Frequent clashes were erupting at the in Evros as migrants were setting fires, throwing Molotov cocktails over to the Greek side and trying to pull the border fence down.
Greek and combined European forces which operated in the area, guarding Europe’s external border, responded with tear gas and attempting to keep the fence intact from the aggressive actions of the migrants.
The Greek foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday saying that it is “following closely the developments at the borders of Poland with Belarus, which are also EU borders.” It adds: “Greece stands with its EU partner and NATO ally Poland and condemns all attempts to instrumentalize migration.”
We are following closely the developments at the borders of #Poland with #Belarus, which are also #EU borders. #Greece stands with its EU partner and NATO ally Poland and condemns all attempts to instrumentalize migration@GreeceinPoland @PolandMFA
— Υπουργείο Εξωτερικών (@GreeceMFA) November 8, 2021
Greece eventually succeeded in protecting its border. Greek officials said at the time that Turkey had tried to weaponize massive migrant flows. It seems that Belarus is now using the same tactic against Poland.
Poland has now deployed additional border guards, police, and the military at its Belarus border. According to the Defense Ministry, the country now has 12,000 soldiers in the region, up from 10,000 deployed ahead of the latest developments. Members of Poland’s army reserve in the border regions were also put on full alert.
“We are prepared for any scenario,” Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said in a tweet on Monday morning.