Poland-Belarus migrant crisis: Hundreds of migrants break through border fence

Hundreds of migrants have broken through a Belarusian border fence with Polish guards rushing to stop them in the latest flashpoint on the tense frontier. 

Videos taken near the Kuznica border crossing point on Monday showed hundreds of people – the majority of whom appeared to be young men – pushing their way through a broken fence towards a smaller barbed wire barricade where  polish border police in riot uniforms confronted them.

More footage showed a Polish helicopter hovering overhead as dozens of soldiers joined police in keeping the migrants back, who appeared to be staging a sit-down protest on the Polish side of the crossing.  

It is just the latest en masse attempt at crossing the border by some 4,000 migrants who are gathered there, and comes as EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to sanction dictator Alexander Lukashenko’s regime over the crisis.

The EU accuses Lukashenko of luring miwgrants to his country on false promises of passage into Europe, before pushing them to the border and forcing them to make illegal crossings. Monday’s sanction are expected to target airlines, travel agencies and individuals that the EU believes is responsible for ferrying the migrants to Belarus. 

Lukashenko denies being responsible for the crisis, and vowed a ‘strong response’ to EU measures today. ‘We will defend ourselves’, he told a meeting of high-ranking officials, adding: ‘That’s it. We have nowhere to retreat’ 

Meanwhile his close ally Russia has accused Britain of bearing responsibility for the migrants, with the country’s foreign ministry lashing out after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss suggested the Kremlin should intervene. 

Hundreds of migrants have broken through the Belarusian border fence close to the Kuznica crossing with Poland, before rushing towards Polish barbed wire barricades

Hundreds of migrants have broken through the Belarusian border fence close to the Kuznica crossing with Poland, before rushing towards Polish barbed wire barricades

Hundreds of migrants have broken through the Belarusian border fence close to the Kuznica crossing with Poland, before rushing towards Polish barbed wire barricades

Polish border police and soldiers have rushed to stop the migrants from crossing, in just the latest flashpoint amidst a migration crisis that Belarus is accused of manufacturing

Polish border police and soldiers have rushed to stop the migrants from crossing, in just the latest flashpoint amidst a migration crisis that Belarus is accused of manufacturing

Polish border police and soldiers have rushed to stop the migrants from crossing, in just the latest flashpoint amidst a migration crisis that Belarus is accused of manufacturing

Videos taken at the border showed most of those rushing across to be young men, though some women and children were pictured amidst the crowds

Videos taken at the border showed most of those rushing across to be young men, though some women and children were pictured amidst the crowds

Videos taken at the border showed most of those rushing across to be young men, though some women and children were pictured amidst the crowds

Poland has vowed to defend the EU's eastern border against what the bloc calls a 'hybrid attack' from Belarus, thought to be in revenge for sanctions against the country levied earlier this year

Poland has vowed to defend the EU's eastern border against what the bloc calls a 'hybrid attack' from Belarus, thought to be in revenge for sanctions against the country levied earlier this year

Poland has vowed to defend the EU’s eastern border against what the bloc calls a ‘hybrid attack’ from Belarus, thought to be in revenge for sanctions against the country levied earlier this year

There are thought to be around 4,000 migrants at the border currently, with EU leaders saying they were lured to Belarus on the false promise of passage into Europe and then pushed to the border and forced to make illegal crossings

There are thought to be around 4,000 migrants at the border currently, with EU leaders saying they were lured to Belarus on the false promise of passage into Europe and then pushed to the border and forced to make illegal crossings

There are thought to be around 4,000 migrants at the border currently, with EU leaders saying they were lured to Belarus on the false promise of passage into Europe and then pushed to the border and forced to make illegal crossings

Migrants, most of whom appeared to be young men, rest on their bags as they sit down in the road in front of Polish riot police and soldiers at the Kuznica crossing today

Migrants, most of whom appeared to be young men, rest on their bags as they sit down in the road in front of Polish riot police and soldiers at the Kuznica crossing today

Migrants, most of whom appeared to be young men, rest on their bags as they sit down in the road in front of Polish riot police and soldiers at the Kuznica crossing today

Monday's incident is just the latest en-masse attempt to cross the border by migrants, who have been gathering in large numbers at the border since last week

Monday's incident is just the latest en-masse attempt to cross the border by migrants, who have been gathering in large numbers at the border since last week

Monday’s incident is just the latest en-masse attempt to cross the border by migrants, who have been gathering in large numbers at the border since last week

Poland has vowed to hold the migrants back, accusing Belarus of waging war using vulnerable people while pledging not to give in to blackmail

Poland has vowed to hold the migrants back, accusing Belarus of waging war using vulnerable people while pledging not to give in to blackmail

Poland has vowed to hold the migrants back, accusing Belarus of waging war using vulnerable people while pledging not to give in to blackmail

A military helicopter circles overhead as hundreds of vulnerable migrants gather at the Polish border today, having broken through from the Belarusian side

A military helicopter circles overhead as hundreds of vulnerable migrants gather at the Polish border today, having broken through from the Belarusian side

A military helicopter circles overhead as hundreds of vulnerable migrants gather at the Polish border today, having broken through from the Belarusian side

Refugees are seen at Kuznica Bialostocka-Bruzgi border crossing where hundreds attempted to get into the EU today

Refugees are seen at Kuznica Bialostocka-Bruzgi border crossing where hundreds attempted to get into the EU today

Refugees are seen at Kuznica Bialostocka-Bruzgi border crossing where hundreds attempted to get into the EU today

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica on Monday

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica on Monday

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica on Monday

The EU accuses Belarus of luring migrants into the country on false promises of a passage to Europe, before forcing them to the border. The bloc is preparing retaliatory sanctions against Lukashenko's regime

The EU accuses Belarus of luring migrants into the country on false promises of a passage to Europe, before forcing them to the border. The bloc is preparing retaliatory sanctions against Lukashenko's regime

The EU accuses Belarus of luring migrants into the country on false promises of a passage to Europe, before forcing them to the border. The bloc is preparing retaliatory sanctions against Lukashenko’s regime

The migrant crisis has been ongoing since the spring, but suddenly intensified last week with the arrival of thousands of people at the border. There are thought to be around 4,000 people there now

The migrant crisis has been ongoing since the spring, but suddenly intensified last week with the arrival of thousands of people at the border. There are thought to be around 4,000 people there now

The migrant crisis has been ongoing since the spring, but suddenly intensified last week with the arrival of thousands of people at the border. There are thought to be around 4,000 people there now

Alexander Lukashenko has vowed a 'strong response' to any new EU sanctions, as the bloc prepares to announce new penalties against his regime today

Alexander Lukashenko has vowed a 'strong response' to any new EU sanctions, as the bloc prepares to announce new penalties against his regime today

Alexander Lukashenko has vowed a ‘strong response’ to any new EU sanctions, as the bloc prepares to announce new penalties against his regime today

NATO will stand by Ukraine in face of Russian troop build-up on border, chief says 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia on Monday that the western military alliance was standing by Ukraine amid a large and unusual concentration of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.

Stressing that the important thing now was to prevent situations from spiralling out of control, Stoltenberg urged Russia to be transparent about military activities, to reduce tensions and prevent an escalation.

‘We have to be clear-eyed, we need to be realistic about the challenges we face. And what we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up,’ Stoltenberg told a news conference with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels.

He said he did not want to speculate about Russia’s intentions but added: ‘We see an unusual concentration of troops, and we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine.’

The Russian troop movements have over the past days spurred fears of a possible attack. Moscow has dismissed such suggestions as inflammatory and complained about increasing activity in the region by the NATO transatlantic alliance.

Meanwhile Pro-Kremlin TV channels accused NATO of being ‘super-aggressive’ in the Black Sea where warships have eyed each other at close distances while military aircraft have played cat and dog in the skies.

One top state TV presenter warned that a ‘confident and clod-blooded’ Vladimir Putin was ‘ready to simply destroy’ in the event of a ‘brazen violation’ of its borders, which Moscow sees as including annexed Crimea.

The Russian blast over the presence of US battleships and NATO – including British – spy planes comes amid huge tension in the separate hot spot on the Belarus-Poland border where a rising number of migrants are seeking to force their way into the EU.

Vesti Nedeli current affairs TV host Dmitry Kiselyov – dubbed Putin’s ‘mouthpiece’ and ‘propagandist-in-chief’ – claimed NATO aircraft and ships, including the USS Mount Whitney and USS Porter, were ‘clearly trying to feel out the weak points in our defence’.

The alliance was ‘acting more aggressively than ever’, and demonstrating a ‘resolve to engage in some nastiness’.

The show on Rossiya 1 also accused the West of ‘inciting’ Ukraine to war with Russia.

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Ms Truss had said the migrant crisis was being ‘carefully crafted’ while urging Russia to ‘press the Belarusian authorities to end the crisis and enter into dialogue.’

Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman, subsequently hit out – telling the Daily Telegraph: ‘The British invasion of Iraq was ‘carefully crafted’.

‘Britain bears a clear historical responsibility for everything that has happened in the region since – the deaths of Iraqis, the destruction of Iraqi statehood, the endless flows of refugees, the emergence of Isis, the humanitarian disasters in this part of the world. 

‘Until London is held accountable for its crimes, its representatives have no right to point the finger at anyone.’

The EU is expected to announce later today what its new sanctions package will include, but it is expected to target airlines and others accused of transporting migrants to Belarus.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, arriving at the meeting of ministers, told reporters the sanctions might include airlines, travel agents and other people involved in transporting migrants. 

Borrell said he had told the Belarusian foreign minister over the weekend that the situation on the border was completely unacceptable and that humanitarian help was needed.

Ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting, Germany’s Heiko Maas said airlines could be told to stop transporting migrants to Minsk or face being banned from landing in Europe, warning: ‘We are nowhere near the end of the sanctions spiral.’ 

 He spoke out after General Sir Nick Carter, head of the British armed forces, warned on Sunday that the UK is facing the prospect of war with Russia if the Belarus crisis spills over into armed conflict.

Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show if he was worried it could quickly escalate into ‘something really serious’, Gen Sir Nick said: ‘I think I am. 

‘I think we have to be on our guard and make sure deterrence prevails and critically we have to make sure there is unity in the Nato alliance and we don’t allow any gaps to occur in our collective position.’

After ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele said Russian leaders believe they are ‘at war’ with the UK and its allies, the general told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: ‘In a way I think he’s right. 

 ‘The question, of course, is how you define war and I, as a soldier, would tend to define war as the actual act of combat and fighting, and I don’t think they want that. I think they want to try and achieve their objective in rather more nuanced ways.’ 

Meanwhile Poland called on NATO to take ‘concrete steps’ to resolve the migrant build-up, and said it was close to activating Clause 4 of the alliance treaty.

Clause 4 would compel member states – the UK among them – to enter into dialogue with other partners who fear their territorial integrity is being threatened. 

Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki also called for the EU to help fund a border wall, saying: ‘We need concrete steps and the commitment of the entire alliance.’

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Polish riot police deploy a water cannon near the border with Belarus after hundreds of migrants rushed across today

Polish riot police deploy a water cannon near the border with Belarus after hundreds of migrants rushed across today

Polish riot police deploy a water cannon near the border with Belarus after hundreds of migrants rushed across today

Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border

Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border

Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border

A group of migrants leaves the camp on the Belarusian side of the border before attempting to cross into Poland

A group of migrants leaves the camp on the Belarusian side of the border before attempting to cross into Poland

A group of migrants leaves the camp on the Belarusian side of the border before attempting to cross into Poland

Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region and heading towards the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region and heading towards the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Migrants collect their belongings before leaving a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region and heading towards the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Poland's servicemen stand behind a barbed wire fence on the Belarusian-Polish border as migrants warm at the fire, on the Belarusian side

Poland's servicemen stand behind a barbed wire fence on the Belarusian-Polish border as migrants warm at the fire, on the Belarusian side

Poland’s servicemen stand behind a barbed wire fence on the Belarusian-Polish border as migrants warm at the fire, on the Belarusian side

Refugees are seen at Kuznica Bialostocka-Bruzgi border crossing on the Polish-Belarusian border as seen from Belarus

Refugees are seen at Kuznica Bialostocka-Bruzgi border crossing on the Polish-Belarusian border as seen from Belarus

Refugees are seen at Kuznica Bialostocka-Bruzgi border crossing on the Polish-Belarusian border as seen from Belarus

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Migrants gather on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Polish border crossing in Kuznica

Up to 4,000 migrants, many from the Middle East, have spent more than a week on the Belarusian side of the border, with Polish authorities reporting attempts to breach the divide daily.

Belarusian soldiers have been accused of breaking holes in Poland’s fence to let them slip through. There were also claims of Minsk arming migrants with tear gas, bright strobes to distract guards and stones and rubble to use as missiles. On Saturday 50 got into Poland near Starzyna village before being detained.

Ahead of the unveiling of more EU sanctions on Belarus today, Poland was braced for another border push.

Interior minister Mariusz Kaminski said a rumour was being spread among migrants that today Poland would let them in and coaches from Germany would pick them up. ‘A provocation is being prepared,’ he said. 

The Polish government sent a text to all foreign mobile phones on the border saying: ‘It’s a total lie and nonsense! Poland will continue to protect its border with Belarus.’

Miss Truss wrote in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday of Belarusian president Lukashenko ‘using desperate migrants as pawns’. 

But defying Western anger, Mr Lukashenko boasted: ‘If someone thinks that Lukashenko or Belarusians will flinch, then this will not happen.’

In Russia, Mr Putin told journalists he was ready to help resolve the migrant crisis on the border.

Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba speaks to journalists about a troop build-up on the Russian border during a summit of EU ministers, who are expected to sanction Belarus today

Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba speaks to journalists about a troop build-up on the Russian border during a summit of EU ministers, who are expected to sanction Belarus today

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba speaks to journalists about a troop build-up on the Russian border during a summit of EU ministers, who are expected to sanction Belarus today

Polish special forces soldiers arrive at the border on Monday as replacements for those already at the front. There are now around 15,000 Polish troops there

Polish special forces soldiers arrive at the border on Monday as replacements for those already at the front. There are now around 15,000 Polish troops there

Polish special forces soldiers arrive at the border on Monday as replacements for those already at the front. There are now around 15,000 Polish troops there

Polish special forces are seen getting off military transport helicopters as they make their way to the border amidst a standoff with Belarus over thousands of migrants gathered there

Polish special forces are seen getting off military transport helicopters as they make their way to the border amidst a standoff with Belarus over thousands of migrants gathered there

Polish special forces are seen getting off military transport helicopters as they make their way to the border amidst a standoff with Belarus over thousands of migrants gathered there

Migrants are pictured burning wood to keep warm overnight with the barbed wire fence along the border visible in the background as they try to reach the EU

Migrants are pictured burning wood to keep warm overnight with the barbed wire fence along the border visible in the background as they try to reach the EU

Migrants are pictured burning wood to keep warm overnight with the barbed wire fence along the border visible in the background as they try to reach the EU

Migrants are now trapped in a forest between Belarus and Poland (pictured), in freezing conditions with little access to food or water

Migrants are now trapped in a forest between Belarus and Poland (pictured), in freezing conditions with little access to food or water

Migrants are now trapped in a forest between Belarus and Poland (pictured), in freezing conditions with little access to food or water

Link hienalouca.com

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