Western leaders have accused Belarus of producing an immigration crisis on the EU’s eastern border in retaliation for sanctions against human rights abuses. The government of President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly denied such claims, instead accusing them of crossing the West and treating immigrants badly.
Russia, Belarus’ largest political and economic partner, continues to defend Minsk’s handling of the border crisis, while denying any involvement.
“I want to tell you something else. I want everyone to know. We have nothing to do with this. Everyone is trying to hold us accountable for no reason at all,” Putin said in an interview aired Saturday. State Broadcaster by Russia24.
“Our airlines did not carry them. None of our airlines.”
Putin also said that Lukashenko had no involvement with Belarus, Belarus’ national airline.
“Well, Belavia, as Alexander Grigorievich [Lukashenko] He told me not to take them either. They book charters, which is visa-free entry – people buy and fly tickets. Yes, some groups are involved in taking these people to European countries, but they have been active for a long time, “Putin said.
Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Magee said on Friday that the Belarusian side was doing everything possible to reduce the influx of migrants.
Meanwhile, the Polish Defense Minister said on Wednesday that Poland has stationed 15,000 soldiers at the border to prevent illegal crossings. About 4,500 people have tried to cross the border since the beginning of this month, according to the Polish border guard.
On Saturday, the Polish border guard accused Belarusian officials of planting tear gas against migrants.
“A group of about 100 immigrants were waiting for the possibility of crossing the border illegally. The Belarusians fitted tear gas to foreigners, which were used towards Polish services. [the border] Blocked, “the border guard said on Twitter. No photos or video were provided to support the allegations.
The border guard reiterated his claim that Belarusian authorities were using lasers and strobe lights against Polish security services at the border, and accused Belarusian soldiers of damaging the border fence near the Polish city of Seremsa.
Because of the crisis, each side has been accused of spreading false information.
A Syrian man was found dead
Meanwhile, thousands of people are stranded between Poland and Belarus in what the United Nations calls a “disaster.” The pessimistic scenes of famine and hypothermia play out in the jungles and in makeshift camps along the border as the global political conflict intensifies.
Belarusian state border officials told CNN on Friday that the refugee camp near the Bruzgi-Kuznica border with Poland is expected to double in less than a week if the crisis remains unresolved.
About 2,000 people are currently waiting at the border, but hundreds continue to arrive daily, officials told CNN, and Belarusian state border officials estimate the number could rise to 5,000 within a week.
The body of a Syrian teenager was found Friday in the woods near the Polish-Belarus border near the Volga Terechovskaya, about 80 miles south of Kuznica, according to a tweet from Polish police.
“The measures taken at the place where the body was found did not allow us to determine beyond a reasonable doubt the cause of death,” police said.
Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski on Saturday described the growing crisis as an “attack” on Poland’s member state, the European Union.
“We are dealing with an attack on the EU as a whole using the artificially created migration crisis. It’s about creating an Eastern European migration route. Everyone knows – in Europe and the United States,” he tweeted.
Kaminski said he had spoken to his German envoy, Horst Seehofer, and expressed his support for setting up the border wall.
US President Joe Biden told reporters Friday night that the situation on the Belarus-Poland border was “extremely worrying.”
“We have conveyed our concerns to Russia. We have conveyed our concerns to Belarus. We think this is a problem,” Biden said.
Neighboring Ukraine is also stepping up security. On Thursday, it announced it would conduct military exercises with about 8,500 troops and 15 helicopters in an area near its borders with Poland and Belarus to deal with the migrant crisis.
The emergence of power across the region continues to test a weak political order, and US accusations in Russia’s military structure deepen concerns about the potential for a broader geopolitical crisis.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the United States was “concerned about reports of extraordinary Russian military action” and noted the possibility of Russia “attempting to repeat” the 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded Friday to the allegations, saying they represent “empty, unsubstantiated tensions.”
In turn, in an interview with Russia 24 aired on Saturday, Putin criticized the “unplanned” NATO exercises in the Black Sea.
“They seem to be simply keeping us on our toes. Well, they need to know that we’re on our toes,” Putin said.
“The United States and its NATO allies are now conducting unplanned – unplanned exercises in the Black Sea, including strategic aviation,” Putin said. “This is a serious challenge for us.”
CNN’s Antonia Mortensen reported from Kuznica, Anna Chernova from Moscow and Duarte Mendonca from London. CNN’s Matthew Sans, Zahra Ullah and Alli Mallai contributed to the report.
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