SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 8 February 2023, Wednesday |

Russia, Belarus conduct military drills near Polish border amid migrant crisis

Amid the increasing tensions over the migrant crisis, Russia and Belarus conducted joint military drills near the Polish border.
The paratrooper exercise was conducted at the Gozhsky range in western Belarus with the Russian Il-76 aircraft and Belarusian helicopter taking part in the exercise. Amid tensions with Poland over the migrant crisis, Belarusian defence minister Viktor Khrenin said his forces were “ready to respond harshly to any attacks”.
EU nations have accused Belarus President Lukashenko of escalating the migrant issue as several people mainly of Middle Eastern origin including women and children have gathered at the Polish border in order to enter Europe with many pushed back by Polish soldiers.
German foreign minister Heiko Maas accused Lukashenko of carrying out “inhumane activities” and said that the “EU is prepared to draw consequences”. The migrant row has been brewing for some months as Poland two months ago had built a razor-wire border fence to keep the migrants at bay.
Reports say at least ten migrants have died during the current crisis as Poland said it feared armed escalation as more migrants massed at the border.
Amid the row, Lukashenko threatened to cut gas supplies to Europe as relations between the Belarus and EU continued to go downhill. Russia however added that its ally did not consult Moscow on cutting gas flow to Europe.
US Vice-President Kamala Harris said the Biden administration was “very concerned” and paying close attention to the unfolding situation at the Polish-Belarus border while adding that Lukashenko was involved in “very troubling activity”.