Belarus may stop intercepting illegal migrants and smuggling, including drugs, bound for Europe in retribution for the European Union’s sanctions against Minsk, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday.
Some 10,000 illegal migrants are caught every year trying to cross Belarus’ border with the EU, Lukashenko said at a press conference.
Smuggling is also rampant, with illegal drugs and even radioactive materials being part of the contraband flow, he said in Minsk.
But the EU is just “constantly pushing Belarus around” in return, Lukashenko said.
“We’ve been sifting it out, but why would we need that [if] they’re not bound for us?” he said. “Pay up, and we’ll stop them.”
In February, the EU introduced economic sanctions against Belarus, citing human rights violations by Lukashenko’s authoritarian regime. The sanctions were prolonged on Monday until November 2013.