The EU’s conflict with Belarus is heating up. The simmering migrant crisis on the Polish border with Belarus exploded into a new level of intensity on Monday, as large groups of migrants marched through Belarus towards Poland before attempting to storm barbed wire fences and force their way into the Schengen zone.
The Polish government responded to the violation of its border with military force. Twelve thousand troops are now being deployed along the border. When migrants managed to break a section of the fence near Kuznica on Monday, a rank of Polish soldiers filled the gap as a military helicopter flew low overhead in an attempt to deter the febrile group, which was chanting ‘Germany!’ It’s thought that around 7,000 of the migrants who recently entered Poland subsequently tried to make it to Germany. Another 14,000 migrants are thought to be in Belarus hoping to make the crossing.
Yet in stopping the migrants’ desperate attempts to reach Europe, Poland has yet to engage with the force responsible for bringing them to the Schengen zone in the first place. Across the border, Belarus has been encouraging migrants to fly from war-torn Middle Eastern countries to Minsk; its soldiers have been directing them to the forests by the border to set up camp.
Those who pass near the Poland-Belarus border have been receiving text messages from the Polish authorities warning about Belarus’s malevolent actions.
‘The Polish border is sealed. Belarusian authorities told you lies. Go back to Minsk! Don’t take any pills from Belarusian soldiers,’ the messages read. The reference to pills follows claims from the Lithuanian authorities that Belarusian border guards have been handing out ‘strange pills’ to help migrants survive the physical ordeal of their attempted border crossing. These pills supposedly contain methadone.