The issue of illegal migration through Belarus was recently voiced at a meeting of European foreign ministers and in the statement of the Secretary-General of NATO on the Russian-Belarusian “West-2021” drill.
The foreign ministers of the European Union met in the capital of Slovenia, the country currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At the end of the meeting, Josep Borrel, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, said that the issue of Afghanistan took up a lot of time, but he stated that they also discussed the worsening of the situation in Belarus outside the program.
The ministers, said Borrell, deplored that “the Lukashenka regime has cynically used this summer’s migrants and refugees to artificially pressurize our eastern borders. Borrel mentioned how during the migration crisis in Spain they had to say that Spain’s border with Morocco was the border of the European Union, and said that now it was time to say: the borders of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are also the borders of Europe. Therefore, the EU is ready to take all measures to support Poland, Lithuania and Latvia if the situation continues to deteriorate.”
The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters about the alliance’s views on the Russian-Belarusian military exercise “West-2021,” which is scheduled to begin on September 10.
Stoltenberg said he urged Russia to be open about the exercise and the number of participants, as worries about the exercise grow in Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states. Russia, he said, should behave predictably and transparently, as the exercises could lead to a miscalculation or incident that would cause a crisis.
The NATO leader noted that previously the number of troops involved in the exercise was five times higher than declared, and Russia had never been open about inspecting the exercise.
He also noticed that there is tension on the borders of NATO and Belarus because official Minsk uses migrants as weapons. Because of this NATO decided next week to send experts to Lithuania to help counteract the hybrid activity of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime.
A day earlier, representatives of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland once again expressed concern about Russian-Belarusian exercises and tension on the border due to the migration crisis, which, they believe, Lukashenka is blackmailing the European Union with.
In the meantime, the Belarusian authorities deny these accusations. On September 2, Belarusian television showed a story accusing those who helped Belarusians escape political repression of “opening Pandora’s box” of illegal migration.