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Russia denies role in Poland-Belarus border strife

November 11, 2021

The Kremlin said Russia is trying to resolve the situation. The EU is reportedly preparing sanctions against a Russian airline over the transportation of migrants to Belarus.

Migrants are seen camping with tents and campfire next to barbed wire
Poland says several thousand migrants have been approaching the its border since November 8Image: Belarus State Border Committee/Tass/imago images

The Kremlin on Thursday rejected allegations that Russia was behind the arrival of migrants who are stuck at the European Union external border with Belarus

Poland had accused Russia of being the "mastermind" behind pushing migrants to Poland's border with Belarus. The European Union has described it as a "hybrid attack" on its border. 

In retaliation, the European Commission is seeking sanctions against Belarusian authorities, as well as airlines that carry the migrants to Belarus. Some media reports, citing EU officials, have suggested that the EU sanctions could target Russian state flag carrier Aeroflot.

What did Russia say?

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said Russia had nothing to do with the crisis. He said that Moscow was concerned by the rising tensions on the Poland-Belarus border, where, he said, there were heavily armed people on both sides. 

"Russia — like other countries — is trying to get involved in resolving the situation," he told reporters. 

EU prepares new sanctions against Belarus

Omid Nouripour, foreign policy spokesman for the German Greens, disagreed, telling DW it was "the people around Lukashenko himself and the Kremlin" ultimately orchestrating the border standoff.

"It needs a dire answer because they are producing a dire situation for people and the humanitarian crisis at the borders of the European Union. It needs not only a humanitarian answer but also a political one, saying that we won't accept it," Nouripour said.

Putin's spokesman Peskov also called reports of possible sanctions against Aeroflot "crazy." 

Earlier on Thursday, Aeroflot said that information about it "organizing the mass transportation of migrants to the territory of the Republic of Belarus does not correspond with reality."

The company said in a press release that it does not operate regular flights to cities in Iraq and Syria, where several of the migrants on the border come from. 

A message posted on the website of the Iraqi embassy in Moscow on Thursday offered repatriation flights for Iraqi nationals in Belarus.

Poland blames Russia

At an emergency parliament session on Tuesday, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pointed fingers toward Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's key ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin

"This attack which Lukashenko is conducting has its mastermind in Moscow, the mastermind is President Putin," Morawiecki told lawmakers.

Tensions escalate 

With hundreds, if not thousands, of migrants stuck on the Belarusian border with Poland, Polish forces have heavily increased security in the area. 

Poland declared a state of emergency on the border, making the area inaccessible for journalists and aid workers. 

Belarus has accused Poland on Thursday of an "unprecedented'' military buildup on the border, saying that migration control did not warrant the concentration of 15,000 troops backed by tanks, air defense assets and other weapons.

For the second day in a row, Russia sent two nuclear-capable strategic bombers on a training mission Thursday over Belarus.

According to the Belarusian Defense Ministry, two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers practiced bombing runs at the Ruzhansky firing range in Belarus.

fb/aw (Reuters, Interfax)