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Why Poland is blaming Putin for latest crisis – ‘Russia are advancing’

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Belarus: Migrants mass at Kuznica-Bruzgi border with Poland

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Mateusz Morawiecki claimed: “This attack which Lukashenko is conducting has its mastermind in Moscow, the mastermind is President Putin.” Thousands of migrants are currently stuck at the border between the two countries in deathly conditions. Speaking in the country’s parliament, Mr Morawiecki said the “neo-imperialist politics of Russia are advancing.”

He continued: “This is the latest attack of [Belarusian leader Alexander] Lukashenko, who is an executor, but has an enabler, and this enabler is in Moscow, this enabler is President Putin, which shows a determination to carry out the scenario of rebuilding the Russian empire, the scenario that we, all Poles, have to forcefully oppose.”

“We’re convinced that the operations on Poland’s eastern border … are part of a bigger operation, part of a more coordinated attack, an attack that has the character of a new kind of war, in which people are used as living shields, and in which another weapon, known from other wars has been used … disinformation.”

Migrants stranded in freezing conditions have been attempting to cross the border into Poland from Belarus.

Poland and Belarus both confirmed on Tuesday that between 3,000 and 4,000 individuals were now living in an improvised camp at the border, near the Polish village of Kuznica.

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Footage from the scene shows the desperate migrants huddling by fires and in tents, as temperatures dropped to dangerously low levels.

The heavy presence of troops on both sides has raised fears of an armed confrontation.

Polish private radio RMF said around 200 people had tried to pass into Poland on Tuesday afternoon, and a second group of around 60 people had tried after midnight.

Other EU states have also accused Belarus of encouraging the migrants to attempt to access Poland.

EU diplomats have warned the bloc will likely impose more sanctions over the escalating crisis.

Germany’s acting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday: “Mr. Lukashenko …unscrupulously exploits people seeking refuge as hostages for his cynical power play.

“But the European Union cannot be blackmailed.”

The EU said it is now pressuring more than a dozen countries, mainly in the Middle East and Africa, to prevent their nationals from leaving for Belarus.

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European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said on Tuesday: “This is part of the inhuman and really gangster-style approach of the Lukashenko regime.”

It comes after Minsk was issued with a number of sanctions for human rights abuses, but Mr Lukashenko has denied engineering any sort of migrant crisis.

It has been alleged the Belarusian dictator has been luring migrants from the Middle East into Belarus to send them across the border, a move in retaliation to the EU imposed sanctions.

Mr Lukashenko and Mr Putin have close ties, with Russia being the country’s main international backer.

The Belarusian leader rebuffed the accusations made by EU member states this week.

He said: “We are not seeking a fight. I am not a madman, I understand perfectly well where it can lead.

“But we will not kneel.”

Backing Belarus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed the migration of people from the Middle East on Western military “adventures”.

He said: “Why, when it comes to refugees heading to the European Union from Turkey, did the EU provide funding to keep them on Turkish territory?

“Why can’t the Belarusians be helped in the same way?”

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