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Belarus threatens to cut gas deliveries to EU if sanctioned over border crisis

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Belarus threatens to cut gas deliveries to EU if sanctioned over border crisis

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Belarus threatens to cut gas deliveries to EU if sanctioned over border crisis

Lukashenko responds to possible sanctions as thousands of migrants camp in freezing temperatures at Poland border

People gathering along Belarus-Poland border

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Other countries bordering Belarus have warned that the border crisis could lead to a new military conflict. In a joint statement on Thursday, the defence ministers of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia called the situation “the most complex security crisis for our region, Nato and the European Union in many years”.

Belarus’ use of migrants could lead to “provocations and serious incidents that could also spill over into military domain,” the statement said.

In a show of support for Lukashenko, Moscow has dispatched nuclear-capable bombers for the past two days to patrol the skies over western Belarus. The Russian defence ministry has called the patrols, which included imitation bombing runs by a pair of Tupolev Tu-160 heavy strategic bombers on Thursday, a training exercise of the countries’ joint air defence systems.

“Let them squeak and shout,” Lukashenko told his top officials in bellicose remarks. “Yes, these are bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. But we have no other option. We have to see what they are doing beyond the borders.”

Belarusian soldiers standing guard as people gathered at the Belarus-Poland border on Tuesday.

Lukashenko also claimed that there had been attempts to smuggle weapons from east Ukraine to those on the border in an attempt to “provoke our border guards into a conflict with theirs”. He did not provide any evidence for the claim, which he said he had discussed with Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine’s interior ministry on Thursday announced that it was planning to deploy an additional 8,500 troops and police officers, as well as 15 helicopters, to prevent attempts by people to cross the border. Although not part of the EU, the country has said it is also concerned at being drawn into the crisis.

Poland-Belarus crisis volunteers: ‘Border police can be very aggressive’

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European officials said that they expected the crisis to worsen. The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said that the picture from the border camps between Belarus and Poland were “terrible”. “Lukashenko is responsible for this suffering. He abuses people to put the EU under pressure.”

Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Paweł Jabłoński, said the crisis was “the worst threat Poland has faced in the last 30 years”, telling the Italian daily La Stampa it expected an escalation in the coming days.

The Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, said Lithuania had asked the UN to discuss creating a “humanitarian corridor” from the Belarusian border for people to return to their countries of origin.

“We have information from social media, that there are people at the border who want to come back, to Iraq and other countries. The only international organisation that can pressure Belarus is the United Nations”, he told reporters in Vilnius, Reuters reported.

Topics

  • Belarus
  • European Union
  • Migration
  • Poland
  • Alexander Lukashenko
  • Europe
  • news
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Published at Thu, 11 Nov 2021 15:14:29 +0000

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/11/belarus-threatens-to-cut-gas-deliveries-to-eu-if-sanctioned-over-border-crisis

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