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Poland

Polish defense minister: Here’s how NATO must adapt (Mariusz Błaszczak, Defense News)

The first two decades of the new millennium have proven the spectrum of security challenges in front of us is unlikely to narrow. Quite the opposite, on top of the “usual” and relatively well-recognized ones, we are being confronted with an array of new threats, which we need to understand better.

Rapid development of emerging technologies, pandemics, deepening scarcity of key natural resources, acceleration of demographic processes, climate change and so on are some of the threats that — just like traditional ones — cannot be tackled single-handedly. Not only do they require a concerted international effort but also a whole-of-government approach, with the military component playing an increasingly active and important role.

Polish defense minister: Here’s how NATO must adapt (defensenews.com)

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Belarus Poland Russia

Kremlin Downplays Lukashenka’s Gas Threat As Poland Summons Belarus Attaché (RFE RL)

The Kremlin has downplayed a renewed threat by Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka to cut Russian gas supplies to the European Union in response to Poland’s possible move to shut down its border with Belarus over an ongoing migrant crisis.

Kremlin Downplays Lukashenka’s Gas Threat As Poland Summons Belarus Attaché (rferl.org)

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Belarus Poland

Poland Maintains Restrictions On Access To Border With Belarus (RFE RL)

Poland has extended a controversial state of emergency that allows the government to continue restricting access to its border with Belarus to everyone except people who live, work, or study in the designated zone.

Poland Maintains Restrictions On Access To Border With Belarus (rferl.org)

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Belarus Poland

What next for the refugees stranded between Belarus and Poland? (Arwa Ibrahim, Al Jazeera)

Ali has been held at a detention centre in Lithuania along with six members of his family since they fled southern Iraq in July.

The 45-year-old is among thousands of people – mainly from the Middle East – who made their way to Belarus over the summer in hope of reaching the European Union.

What next for the refugees stranded between Belarus and Poland? | Migration News | Al Jazeera

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Belarus Poland

The devastating ways women suffer at the Poland-Belarus border (Sara Cincurova, Al Jazeera)

When 28-year-old Shirin*, an Iraqi Kurd, crossed the border from Belarus into Poland with her seven-year-old son Ali*, she did not expect to end up unconscious and immobile in the freezing woods.

The devastating ways women suffer at the Poland-Belarus border | Refugees News | Al Jazeera

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Belarus Poland

Swift trans-Atlantic action kept Turkey from fueling Belarus’ hybrid attacks (Aykan Erdemir, Defense News)

Following her meeting with President Biden at the White House last Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated on Twitter that the rising tensions on the Belarus-Poland border were not a “migration crisis” but a “hybrid attack,” a form of irregular warfare that blends military and non-military methods. She proceeded to announce that the European Union and the United States will cooperate on sanctioning third-country airlines involved in human trafficking. The unstated target of von der Leyen’s warning was the Turkish government, whose flag carrier had been delivering migrants to Belarus. When called out, Ankara reversed course, showing how coordinated transatlantic pressure can thwart a hybrid attack.

Swift trans-Atlantic action kept Turkey from fueling Belarus’ hybrid attacks (defensenews.com)

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Belarus Poland

Poland turns water cannon on migrants, crisis stokes East-West tension (Robin Emmott and Joanna Plucinska, Yara Abi Nader, Reuters)

Polish security forces fired water cannon at rock-throwing migrants on the border with Belarus on Tuesday, and NATO reiterated its support for Warsaw in a crisis that has left thousands stranded on the frontier in icy temperatures.

Video footage released by Polish authorities showed migrants also throwing bottles and logs across a barbed-wire border fence, and using sticks to try to break through.

Seven police were hurt in the violence, the latest in a crisis the European Union says is orchestrated by Belarus – an ally of Russia – in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed over a crackdown on political protests, a charge that Minsk denies.

Up to 4,000 migrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, are now waiting in freezing forests on what is not only Poland’s frontier but is also the external border of the EU and NATO, the Western military alliance.

“We are deeply concerned about the way the (Belarusian leader Alexander) Lukashenko regime is using vulnerable migrants as a hybrid tactic against other countries,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told alliance defence ministers meeting in Brussels. “We stand in solidarity with Poland and all the allies affected.”

Lithuania and Latvia, which like Poland are members of NATO and the EU, have also reported a sharp increase in attempts to cross from Belarus since summer.

At least eight migrants have died at the border during the crisis. One, a 19-year-old Syrian man, was buried on Tuesday in the northeastern Polish village of Bohoniki.

A nine-year old Kurdish boy who has had both legs amputated was among those stuck between the lakes, swamps and forests at the frontier after Poland refused to let them in and Belarusian forces prevented them heading back.

‘ENORMOUS SUFFERING’

“We can see enormous suffering of people who are left in limbo,” said Dunja Mijatovic, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, a European rights watchdog that is larger than the EU and also counts Russia among its members.

After visiting a migrants’ aid centre in a Polish town nearby the border, she said: “We need to find a way to de-escalate, to make sure that the focus is on stopping the suffering.”

Relations between Belarus and the EU worsened after a contested presidential election last year in which Lukashenko, who has held power since 1994, claimed victory. That triggered mass street protests and, in turn, a police crackdown.

The EU agreed on Monday to impose more sanctions on Belarus to target airlines, travel agencies and individuals involved in pushing migrants towards the border.

The EU and NATO have asked Russia, Lukashenko’s most important ally, to make him end the crisis. The West has also warned the Kremlin over what NATO says is a Russian military buildup on the border with neighbouring Ukraine.

In Brussels, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said Europe was keeping a close eye on both the Belarus-Polish border and Russia’s activity near Ukraine.

“It is an unsupportable instrumentalisation (of migrants),” she said.

Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini said the West was acting together to “firmly condemn the Belarusian regime.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko discussed the matter on Tuesday, Russian state news agency TASS quoted the Kremlin as saying.

Belarusian state news agency BELTA said border guards had started moving migrants who gathered at a closed crossing point to a reception centre further away from the frontier.

Moscow has dismissed a U.S. State Department comment that the crisis was meant to distract attention from Ukraine, from which Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Russia has also backed separatists fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine.

Categorie
Belarus Europe Poland

The EU’s Latest Migrant Crisis: Will Belarus Get Its Way? (Maxim Samorukov, Carnegie Moscow Center)

Images of crowds of refugees and migrants at EU borders may be a common occurrence, but there’s something very different about the current scenes at the border between Poland and Belarus. For those people were helped to get there not by human traffickers or other organized crime gangs, but by none other than the Belarusian authorities. For this reason, the EU cannot let them in. What would in other circumstances be a humanitarian act would, in this case, amount to pandering to a dictator and giving in to blackmail.

The EU’s Latest Migrant Crisis: Will Belarus Get Its Way? – Carnegie Moscow Center – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Categorie
Belarus Poland

Poland-Belarus: Refugees talk of ‘unimaginable suffering’ on border (Céline Martelet, Hussam Hammoud, Middle East Eye)

Eighteen days of “inhumanity” is how Hamza described what he experienced at the gates of the European Union. The 25-year-old Syrian was still in shock when he sent his testimony through WhatsApp to Middle East Eye.

“It was horrible, unimaginable suffering,” says Hamza. “With my friends, we wished for death. We wandered in this forest. Without food, without water. We suffered beatings, humiliations. We are traumatised.”

Poland-Belarus: Refugees talk of ‘unimaginable suffering’ on border | Middle East Eye

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