Poland says Belarus has changed tactics on migrant crisis

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Belarus has changed tactics in the crisis with neighbour Poland by now directing smaller groups of migrants to multiple points along the EU’s eastern frontier, the Polish defence minister said Saturday.

Polish border guards reported new attempted crossings by several groups mostly consisting of dozens of migrants, though they also noted one crowd of 200 people armed with rocks and tear gas.

“We have to prepare for the fact that this problem will continue for months. I have no doubt that that will be the case,” Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told the commercial RMF FM radio station.

“Now a bit of a new method has been taken on by the migrants and Belarusian services… Smaller groups of people are trying to cross the border in many places,” he said.

He added that “there is no question that these attacks are directed by Belarusian services.”
The West accuses Belarus of artificially creating the crisis by bringing in would-be migrants — mostly from the Middle East — and taking them to the border with promises of an easy crossing into the EU. Belarus has denied the claim, instead criticising the EU for not taking in the migrants.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told the BBC on Friday that it was “absolutely possible” his forces had helped people cross into the EU but denied orchestrating the operation.

“We’re Slavs. We have hearts. Our troops know the migrants are going to Germany… Maybe someone helped them,” he said. “But I didn’t invite them here.”

The migrants — mostly Iraqi Kurds — have abandoned everything in their countries, spending thousands of dollars to fly into Belarus on tourist visas, determined to reach the European Union. —AFP

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