Refugee dispute with the EU: Belarus trains with Russian troops

Status: 11/12/2021 6:53 p.m.

Poland has stationed around 15,000 soldiers on the border with Belarus to prevent migrants from crossing over. The government in Minsk sees this as a threat – and is holding a maneuver with Russian paratroopers.

Belarus and Russia have announced joint military exercises near the Polish border. The Belarusian Defense Ministry announced that a “joint tactical battalion group” with paratroopers from both countries had held exercises in the Grodno region in western Belarus. It justified the move with the “increase in military activity” near the Belarusian border.

According to Minsk, Russian Il-76 military aircraft and Belarusian military helicopters were also involved in the exercises. According to Russian news agencies, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow said it was a surprise operation to “check the combat readiness” of the troops. 250 own paratroopers were involved.

As early as Thursday, the Kremlin dispatched two nuclear-capable combat aircraft on a training mission over Belarus. Observers took this as a signal that Moscow wants to support its ally in the migrant crisis on the Polish border.

“Most Important Ally”

At the EU’s external border in Poland, thousands of refugees, mainly from the Middle East, are currently stuck in freezing temperatures. The EU accuses the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately smuggling people to the borders of the EU state in retaliation for sanctions. The Polish government has stationed 15,000 soldiers in the area due to the large number of soldiers and erected a fence made of barbed wire.

The government in Minsk accused Poland of an “unprecedented” military march. Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Chrenin warned in a video address that Belarus would react “appropriately” to attempts at intimidation and unfounded accusations. The Belarusian armed forces are able to “guarantee the security of the country, if necessary together with our most important strategic ally, Russia”.

More than 9000 unauthorized entries

In a makeshift camp in the border area between Poland and Belarus, more than 2,000 migrants are currently waiting under the most difficult conditions. Ten people have already died there in the past few weeks, according to a report by the Polish newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza”.

Many of the migrants hope to get to Germany via Belarus. According to their own information, the Federal Police registered unauthorized entries since the beginning of November until Thursday 1488. A total of 9,329 unauthorized entries have taken place via Belarus since the beginning of the year, the authority said.

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