Polish Government Approves Construction of Border Wall on Frontier With Belarus
15:15 GMT 13.10.2021 (Updated: 16:56 GMT 13.10.2021)
© Sputnik / Viktor TolochkoPolish border guards watch a refugee camp behind barbed wire installed on the border between Belarus and Poland near the village of Usnarz Dolny, Belarus
© Sputnik / Viktor Tolochko/
Warsaw and its allies have spent months accusing Minsk of deliberately trying to push illegal immigrants from third world countries into Poland. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied the allegations and said that crushing Western sanctions against his country have made it impossible to continue to afford airtight border controls.
The Polish government has adopted a bill on the construction of a barrier on the border with Belarus, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski has announced.
In a tweet, Kaminski said that the project, which will now go to Parliament for approval, envisions the creation of a towering barrier equipped with monitoring and movement detection systems.
The border barrier, which is expected to replace the temporary barbed wire fence that’s been installed along the 418 km Polish-Belarusian frontier, is expected to cost Warsaw some 1.6 billion zlotys (equivalent to about $403 million US), according to media reports.
Poland’s border guard service recorded over 6,000 attempts to illegally cross the border into the country from Belarus since the start of October. In September, 18,000+ attempts were recorded. Warsaw has a state of emergency in place in regions bordering Belarus, with about 1,500 troops and police units called on to assist border guards in preventing the flow of migrants.
Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia accuse Belarus of deliberately allowing large numbers of illegal migrants from the Middle East and Africa to attempt to enter the European Union via their borders. The crisis began in the summer of 2021, after Belarus froze an agreement with Brussels on the readmission of illegal immigrants, in retaliation to crushing economic sanctions by the EU targeting Belarusian potash, petroleum and tobacco industry exports.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko dubbed the sanctions a component of a “hybrid war” against Belarus, and said Minsk no longer had the resources or the energy to effectively protect the EU's eastern frontiers from migrants and drug smugglers. Relations between Minsk and Brussels sunk to historic lows in the aftermath of the August 2020 presidential elections, which sparked to mass protests by the country’s pro-Western opposition, and the creation of a self-proclaimed government in exile by opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
Amid the border crisis, Belarus’s border guards have repeatedly reported on the forcible expulsion of would-be migrants from Lithuania, Poland and Latvia back to Belarus, and recorded instances of the harsh treatment of migrants, such as the dumping of unconscious persons from vehicles along the frontier, the use of tear gas, and other abuses. In August, Belarus accused Lithuania of beating an unidentified Iraqi man to within an inch of his life and turning him back toward Belarus. The man was later said to have died from his injuries in Belarusian custody. Lithuania dismissed the allegations. Last month, Poland reported that four Iraqi nationals were found dead at the frontier between the two countries after succumbing to exhaustion and hypothermia.
11 October 2021, 15:08 GMT
Warsaw has accused Russia of involvement, with foreign minister Mateusz Morawiecki claiming last month that the situation was “a mass organised, well-directed action from Minsk and Moscow.” Morawiecki produced no evidence to support the allegations.
Brussels has joined Poland and the Baltic states in blaming Minsk for the situation at the Belarusian-EU border. Last month, the European Commission announced that it would be willing to commit resources to defend the EU bloc’s common border with Belarus if Poland requested such assistance.