- European Union to step up sanctions over migrant crisis in Belarus
- Block focused on airlines, travel agencies in Middle East
- Belarus says allegations that it caused the crisis are “absurd”
- Poland says up up to 4,000 people stuck on border met Belarus
- EU calls on Kremlin to pressure Minsk; Moscow offers to mediate
BRUSSELS/WARSAW/MOSCOW, Nov. 15 (Reuters) – The European Union will step up sanctions against Belarus, that on Monday denounced as “absurd” Western allegations that it was the cause of a migrant crisis die left up up to 4,000 people stranded in icy forests on his limit with Poland.
EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to agree on further measures die Putting pressure on Belarus, where veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko squatted down on protesters die to defy a presidential election as fraudulent vote in in which he had claimed victory.
The 27 countries EU struck penalties on Minsk for violation of human rights. less than one year after the August 2020 elections, migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo and Cameroon began to appear on The Land Borders of Belarus with try the EU over to the Member States Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.
“What We See” in Minsk, this inhuman system of using refugees as tools exert pressure on the European Union, has not improved but it got worse over the last days,” said the German EUminister Haiko Maas on arrive to talk with his colleagues.
“We will tighten sanctions” on individuals who are involved in this human trafficking, and we’ll have to have it over the fact that severe economic sanctions are inevitable… We will also have to deal with the airlines.”
Migrants from the Middle East and Africa had not used this migration route to the wealthy European bloc before.
Polish border guards have reported 5,100 attempts at illegal crossings from Belarus so far in November, compared met 120 in all of 2020. Comparative figures also pointed in the two Baltic states.
“Today we are going to a new package of sanctions,” said top EU diplomat Josep Borrell, adding that they will target affected airlines and travel agencies. in “this illegal push” of migrants”.
Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded by dismissing as “absurd” allegations that Minsk had caused the migrant crisis on its limits with the European Union, according to the Russian state news agency RIA.
Lukashenko said Belarus was trying to convince migrants to go back home. “But Nobody Wants To Go” back’, he said, according to the Belarusian state news agency Belta. Minsk would take revenge against each new EU sanctions, he said.
Maas cried on Lukashenko’s most powerful ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to apply pressure on Minsk stops met risk people’s life in a towof-war with the European Union.
at least eight people have died along the 200-kilometer-long land border between Poland and Belarus, partly from cold and exhaustion.
The sparsely populated area of lakes, swamps and forests is become equal more hostile to people trying to keep themselves warm around bonfires during the cold November nights.
Maas and Borrell urged Warsaw to allow humanitarian help on the border, where Poland has a fence met has installed barbed wire and some 20,000 police, border guards and soldiers.
The Kremlin said it was willing to mediate between Belarus and the EU, that Putin met Lukashenko would talk and that Moscow would not plans to divert gas flows from Belarus, despite Minsk’s threat to cut transit to Europe via to shut down the Yamal pipeline.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also dismissed as “wrongA statement from the United States Department of State that the border crisis in Belarus was intended to divert attention from the increased Russian military activity in near Ukraine.
EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have warned of An risk of military conflict and their presidents will discuss the matter on Monday with Andrzej Duda from Poland.
Travel agencies in the Middle East at work in partnership with tour operators in Belarus issued tourist visas to thousands of people in last months, a Reuters investigation revealed.
The EU would target airlines die migrants from the Middle East to Minsk. to fly in to take them to the border, the block chief said. Maas emphasized that Turkish Airlines was staying away.
foreign from Lithuania minister called on the EU to also Belarusian airports are suffocating. “We need to make Minsk airport a no-fly zone,” said Gabrielius Landsbergis.
Reporting by Robin Emmott, Sabine Siebold, Maria Kiselyova, Dmitry Antonov, Tom Balmforth, Olzhas Auyezov, Gabriela Baczynska, Alexander Ratz, Thomas Escritt, Pawel Florkiewicz and Andrius Sytas, Written by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Catherine Evans
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