EU news LIVE: Michel jets for emergency talks– Brussels chief poised to DEFY von der Leyen

Belarus: Migrants mass at Kuznica-Bruzgi border with Poland

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The European Council President hopes to show “solidarity” with Poland after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen clearly ruled out EU money being used for border fences or walls. At least 2,000 migrants, mostly from the Middle East and Asia, are said to be stuck at the border in freezing conditions with some trying to force their way through using bolt cutters, tree trunks, and group force.

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KEY EVENTS

  • Russia sends bombers to patrol in show of support14:38
  • Human rights chief calls on ‘immediate de-escalation’ of migrant crisis13:24
  • Lukashenko launches verbal attack on EU11:17
  • Guards fire shots at border as tensions rise 08:28
  • Russia sends bombers to patrol in show of support

    Russia has dispatched two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace in a show of support. 

    The decision comes as the 27-nation bloc considered sanctions to punish Minsk for what it calls an artificially created crisis, something Belarus denies.

    Migrants trapped in Belarus made multiple attempts to force their way into Poland overnight, Warsaw said on Wednesday, announcing that it had reinforced the border with extra guards.

    The Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers sent to fly over Belarus are capable of carrying nuclear missiles, including hypersonic ones designed to evade sophisticated Western air defences.

    Russia blamed the EU for the border crisis saying it failed to uphold its own humanitarian values and of trying to “strangle” Belarus with plans to close part of the frontier. 

    EU needs to make up its mind to protect borders

    Charles Michel has said the EU needs to make up its mind if it’s ready to finance fences to help countries such as Lithuania in protecting the bloc’s external borders against a “hybrid attack” by Belarus. 

    Following a meeting with Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki, Mr Michel said: ” About the physical infrastructure to protect the borders: Based on an opinion of the legal service of the Council, it is legally possible, based on the current legal framework at European level, to finance infrastructure.”

    He added that the decision needs to be taken by the European Commission but “the legal opinion of the Council is very clear.”

    Human rights chief calls on ‘immediate de-escalation’ of migrant crisis

    United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called on states to resolve the “intolerable” crisis on the Belarus-Poland border. 

    Bachelet urged countries involved to “take immediate steps to de-escalate and resolve” the station in line with “obligations under international human rights law and refugee law”.

    It comes after Moscow sent a further signal of support for its ally Belarus by dispatching two strategic bomber planes to patrol Belarusian airspace.

    Actions by both sides “including through the increased deployment of troops � and accompanying inflammatory rhetoric” exacerbate the vulnerability and risks that migrants and refugees face, she said.

    Bachelet called for immediate access for aid workers, lawyers and journalists to those stranded.

    “These hundreds of men, women and children must not be forced to spend another night in freezing weather without adequate shelter, food, water and medical care,” she said.

    “Under international law, no one should ever be prevented from seeking protection, and individual consideration must be given to their protection needs.”

    Russia alliance ‘could be dangerous’ for EU

    The EU has warned an alliance between Russia and Belarus “could be dangerous” amid growing tension between Brussels and Minks. 

    Ex-British ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood warned the EU is now under threat because of the alliance warning Moscow could exploit the migrant crisis to strengthen its influence over Belarus. 

    Speaking to GB News Sir Wood said the aim of “both Presidents now is to divide and weaken European cohesion including that of the European Union.”

    Read more here.

    Eu funding should not be used for fences and barbed wire at borders

    The EU says its funding could be used to finance border infrastructure.

    The Commission said the budget supported border management but should not be used to put up fences or barbed wire as thousands of migrants are trapped in Belarus where razor wire fences and Polish troops flock their entry.

    “Our position is that European funding should not be used to finance this kind of infrastructure – fences or barbed wire – and according to the information that is not the case and there are procedures in place to make sure the Commission knows what European funding is spent on,” a spokesperson told a briefing.

    Merkel asks Putin to press Lukashenko on the crisis

    Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin that that Belarus‘s “instrumentalisation of migrants” was inhumane and unacceptable

    During a phone conversation the German Chancellor asked him to press Belarus‘s government on the matter, her spokesperson said.

    The Kremlin earlier blamed the European Union for the migrant crisis on the border between Belarus and Poland, saying it was failing to uphold its own humanitarian values and trying to “strangle” Belarus with plans to close part of the border.

    Lukashenko launches verbal attack on EU

    Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has launched an attack on the EU cursing European heads of state: “You b****rds, you madman, you want me to protect you from migrants?”

    In an interview for  Belarusian state television Lukashenko caused the EU of waging a “hybrid war”. 

    In an interview with a Russian magazine the dictator also spoke of a hidden threat against the EU: “I fear that this confrontation at the border could lead to an active phase because of the migrants. These are reasons for provocation. All provocations are possible.”

    He added:“If we make the slightest mistake here, God forbid, Russia will immediately be drawn into it, the largest nuclear power in the world.”

    Russia blames EU for border crisis

    Russia has blamed the migrant crisis on the border between Belarus and Poland on the European Union.

    The Kremlin said it was failing to hold its own humanitarian values and trying to “strangle” Belarus with plans to close part of the border.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said that comments by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki – who has blamed Moscow for the border crisis – were unacceptable.

    Refugees from Asia and the Middle East have clashed with Polish border guards this week as they tried to cross the border from Belarus and were ushed back.

    Lukashenko demands migrants are let through

    Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has demanded people are let through the borders, saying they don’t want to settle in Poland, but mainly in Germany. 

    The leader, who is described as the “last dictator in Europe”, has a reputation for allowing people from crisis states to be flown in in order to smuggle them towards the EU border. 

    Lukashenko had denied the allegations and held international smuggling networks responsible for organising people’s trips.

    He again admitted that he would no longer stop migrants on their way to the EU.

    Escalation expected ‘of an armed nature’

    The European Commission accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, 67 of adopting a “gangster-style approach” to the border crisis. 

    A spokesman for the commission said Lukashenko is “lying to people, he is misusing people, misleading them” and bringing them to Belarus under the “false promise of having easy entry to the EU”.

    Brussels is said to be in talks for 13 countries that could be the sources for people arriving at the EU’s external border.

    Warsaw said they are expecting escalation “which will be of an armed nature” and in Lithuania, Parliamentarians voted to introduce a state of emergency.

    Dozens of migrants cross border, Polish media reports

    Two large groups have reportedly broken through the border from Belrus to Poland, according to Polish news agency PAP. 

    Several dozen migrants managed to destroy fences near the villages of Krynki and Białowieża and cross the border. 

    Broadcaster Białystok quoted a spokeswoman for the border guard saying that in both cases fences and barriers had been violently torn down.

    Scenes are ‘horrific’, says foreign minister

    Germany’s acting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter the images from the Belarusian border were “horrific”.

    “Mr. Lukashenko …unscrupulously exploits people seeking refuge as hostages for his cynical power play… But the European Union cannot be blackmailed,” he said.

    Maas said the EU would not leave anyone in need alone.

    ‘Many attempts’ to breach border last night

    Poland and other EU states are also accusing Belarus of encouraging migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa to illegally cross the border in revenge for sanctions in Minsk, the capital, over human rights abuses. 

    Polish defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Tuesday night “was not a calm night” and there were “many attempts” to preach the Polish border.

    Blaszczak said all those who tried to cross were detained, and that the force of Polish soldiers stationed at the border had been strengthened to 15,000 from 12,000.

    Belarus accused of ‘brutal, hybrid attack’ on border

    Michel has accused Belarus of orchestrating a “brutal, hybrid attack” on the EU by sending migrants to its border. 

    Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, which are all part of the EU, have seen a surge in the number of people trying to enter their countries illegally from Belarus in recent months.

    Michel also appeared to reopen the debate over EU funding for a border wall.

    He said: “We have opened the debate on the EU financing of physical border infrastructure.

    “This must be settled rapidly.”

    Guards fire shots at border as tensions rise

    Tensions are rising on the Poland, Belurs border as Belurisian services have been seen firing shots to intimidate migrants. 

    The migrants are camping in tents just inside Belarus but are trapped between Polish guards on one side and Belursian guards on the other.

    Overnight Polish private radio RMF said around 60 people tried to breach the border at midnight following around 200 people on Tuesday afternoon.

    Belarusian services fire shots towards migrants

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