EU: Lukashenko exploits 'hybrid attacks' to break Brussels' unity
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The European Union has been locking horns with Belarus over their conduct for months, with the bloc introducing new sanctions on Minsk earlier this month over the failure to intervene to stop huge crowds of migrants from trying to enter EU territory through Poland. The growing number of people on the Belarus border with the EU has put increasing pressure not only on Polish authorities but also on Latvia and Lithuania, which declared a state of emergency on November 9. Latvian deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks claimed Belarusan leader Alexander Lukashenko is attempting to break EU unity by exploiting the failures of Brussels’ policies in the 2015 migrant crisis.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Pabriks said: “The reason why these hybrid attacks against our border, which appear to be EU but also NATO outside borders, are coming against us is because Lukashenko thinks that by using migrants he can break the unity of the European Union.
“And basically reach the level where sanctions are abolished. He learned, in our view, together with Russian advisors from the mistakes of policies of the European Union in 2015, when the borders were opened.
“In fact, what they’re doing is very clear, and it’s fact-based assumptions.
“They’ve been collecting people from different countries, bringing them to Minsk, put them in hotels and afterwards, in state-sponsored cars, in huge masses bringing them to our borders and trying to push them over.”
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The EU accused Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, of deliberately encouraging the migrants to breach its borders in retaliation for the sanctions imposed in response to his repressive rule.
Prime Boris Johnson said the UK will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Poland against attempts to “provoke” a migrant crisis at its border as he met with President Mateusz Morawieki this week.
Mr Morawiecki said that “things are now getting very much crazy around us”.
He said the UK and Poland have “almost the same priorities” and are “on the same hymn sheet”.
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He also warned of some “not so good guys” around the “democratic world and transatlantic community”: “We have to stay together in front of all those challenges.”
Lithuania’s Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said on Friday her country may close border crossing points with Belarus if migrants continue to be smuggled into its territory.
Ms Bilotaite said: “We have decided to increase checks on vehicles crossing into Lithuania.
“If we see this trend increasing, we will be very seriously considering closing border crossing points with Belarus.”
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Four Iraqi migrants were found hiding in a consignment of peat in a Belarusian-registered truck at the Medininkai crossing on Thursday afternoon.
The Lithuanian border guard service said Minsk refused to take them back.
Ms Bilotaite said there could be up to 15,000 migrants in Belarus trying to find a way into the European Union, including up to 2,000 at the Lithuanian border.
She added: “Until they are returned home we cannot be calm.
“Lukashenko is unpredictable, we can expect anything from him, so we must be ready for all outcomes.”
Lukashenko told migrants near the border his country would help them to return home if they wanted to but would not force them.
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