Belarusian services fire shots towards migrants
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This comes after Mr Putin flew two nuclear bombers over Belarus in response to a growing number of migrants on the Polish Border, sparking war fears on the EU’s doorstep. Speaking about the escalating conflict, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clement Beaune rejected claims that Russia was involved in the flood of migrants sent by Belarus.
He said: “As for Russia, we don’t have any facts that would indicate its involvement in the matter,”
“It is obvious that if Russia is not part of the problem, it is at least part of the solution since Belarus’ dependence on Moscow is increasingly strong.”
Belarusian dictator, Lukashenko, has been accused of using refugees as a pawn in his attack on the EU, after he reportedly sent thousands of refugees to the Polish border.
Speaking to French media outlet BFMTV on Thursday, Mr Beune blasted Belarus for what he called a “migratory attack”, claiming that it was designed to “destabilize the European Union.”
His defence of Russia came after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused Mr Putin of being the “mastermind” behind Belarus’s actions.
During a parliamentary session on the crisis, he said: “This attack which Lukashenko is conducting has its mastermind in Moscow. The mastermind is President Putin.”
However, Russia itself has declined to take responsibility, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying that “the main responsibility for resolving the migrant crisis lies with those who made it possible for the crisis to start in the first place.”
Mr Lukashenko has also denied allegations that the flow of migrants is part of a Belarusian attack on the EU, instead accusing America of having “invited” them and expecting “Europe and Central Asia to take them in.”
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The Belarusian leader also threatened to retaliate if the EU stepped up sanctions on the country, alluding to the possibility of cutting off gas supplies.
In comments to officials released by the presidency, Mr Lukashenko said: “If they impose additional sanctions on us… we must respond.
“We are warming Europe, and they are threatening us.”
Yesterday, President Putin sent two supersonic Tu-22M3 bombers over Belarus airspace, which – according to the Russian defence ministry – were sent in support of Lukashenko.
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The planes repeatedly flew over Belarus to perform “tasks of combat alert for air defence”.
This followed Angela Merkel reaching out to Mr Putin, asking him to press Belarus to stop the flow of refugees, calling it inhumane and unacceptable.
Footage recently emerged showing Belarusian soldiers firing shots at refugees, including women and children, reportedly as part of an attempt to intimidate them.
Last week, images emerged showing a long line of migrants being led towards the border by what appeared to be Belarusian forces.
A spokesperson for the Polish government, Piotr Muller, has said that they “expect there could be an escalation of … an armed nature any time soon on the Polish border”.
In response to the increasing flow of migrants, the Polish government sent 12,000 troops to the border, to reinforce the 10,000 already stationed there.
Calling the wave of refugees “an invasion”, the Polish government has said it is “determined” to “defend” Europe.
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