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Poland: Migrants break through border fence and EU prepares new sanctions

Warsaw - Several dozen migrants from Belarus broke through the border fence with Poland on Wednesday night. According to the Polish news agency PAP, they destroyed the border fortifications near the villages of Krynki and Bialowieza. Some of the intruders had been returned to Belarus, while others were at large.

Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak (PiS) announced on Wednesday morning: "All those who breached were arrested." According to the PAP, the Belarusian border guard published photos of several migrants who were bleeding from their heads and hands. They are said to have made deep cuts when they overcame the barbed wire fences. However, the images are not verifiable. The Belarusian regime accuses the Polish security forces of cracking down on the migrants. According to Poland's Ministry of Defense, Belarusian security services intimidate the migrants by firing gunshots and pushing them to the border.

According to Polish information, there are around 4,000 asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East, in the Polish-Belarusian border area. Poland is trying with around 20,000 security forces to prevent the predominantly male migrants from entering the country.

Belarus' ruler Alexander Lukashenko has had masses of migrants brought to the national borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland for months in order to put the European Union under pressure in revenge for sanctions. In addition, Belarus enables citizens of certain countries such as Syria or Iraq to enter Minsk in a simplified or visa-free manner and supports their forwarding to the EU's external borders.

German Greens, Left Party and migrant organizations criticize Poland
While the Greens and the Left Party as well as several German migrant aid organizations sharply criticize Poland for their actions, Poland's ambassador to Germany, Andrzej Przylebski, emphasized in an interview with Junge Freiheit that his country would not give in to the pressure. We want to set an example that the defense of the EU border, contrary to some German idealists, is possible. But we will be tougher than Germany back then and will not be frightened by manipulated images.

Meanwhile, the EU is planning further sanctions against Belarus. 30 Belarusian people and companies are to be put on the sanctions list, including Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makej and the state airline Belavia, three EU diplomats confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday.

Austria's Interior Minister Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) offered Warsaw “to stand by its side in solidarity” and to provide support in protecting the EU's external border. As previously Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) called Nehammer in Die Welt on the European Commission to Poland to help. However, the offer to support Polish authorities in registering migrants is "the completely wrong signal".

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