EU Considering Border Wall After Several Member Countries Push to Stem Migrant Flow

The European Union (EU) said Wednesday that it will begin discussions on potentially funding a wall on its external borders, the Associated Press reported.

The decision was announced by European Council President Charles Michel during a visit to Warsaw, Poland. Michel told reporters that discussions on whether or not to finance "physical infrastructure at the borders" would happen in the coming days.

The announcement came shortly after Poland closed a significant border checkpoint due to the influx of migrants wanting to enter the country from Belarus. According to AP, hundreds of migrants have been camping across from the Polish village of Kuznica since Monday.

Poland and other nations in the EU have accused Belarus of encouraging migrants entering their country to instead attempt to cross into neighboring ones. Lithuania and Latvia have also experienced surges in migrants. Many speculate that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is attempting to create instability in retaliation for sanctions against his country.

Poland also has been criticized for its handling of the crisis. Eight migrants were found dead in the swamps and bogs of the Poland-Belarus border. Thousands of migrants, including children, have allegedly been pushed into the swamps by Polish authorities. With temperatures dripping below freezing at night, the United Nations refugee agency and Polish citizens have criticized the nation, with Poland receiving support from other nations after migrants used wire cutters to cut open the borders.

Humanitarian groups and activists are at the border assisting migrants. A group of them allegedly planned to pick migrants up and take them to Germany but were stopped by Polish police on November 9.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Polish Border
Polish servicemen behind a barbed wire fence on the Belarusian-Polish border watch migrants camping on the Belarusian side in the Grodno region on November 10, 2021. Above, hundreds of desperate migrants are trapped in freezing temperatures on the border and the presence of troops from both sides has raised fears of a confrontation. Photo by Ramil Nasibulin/Belta/AFP via Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to intervene with Belarus over the migrant situation on that country's border with Poland, where groups of migrants made bold attempts this week to cross into European Union territory.

The chancellor's office said Merkel spoke with Putin by phone and underlined that the exploitation "of migrants against the European Union by the Belarusian regime is inhuman and completely unacceptable." Merkel asked the Russian president "to exert his influence on the regime in Minsk," her office said.

Russia is a close ally of the government in Belarus. Germany is a favored destination for migrants who manage to enter the EU.

The readout of the call released by the Kremlin said Putin proposed a discussion of the problems that have come up between EU member nations and Belarus. It also said that Putin and Merkel "agreed to continue the conversation on the issue."

During a visit aimed at showing support for Poland, Michel said that Poland was facing a "serious crisis" and a "brutal attack" and deserved solidarity from the rest of the 27-nation EU.

Poland's Defense Ministry also accused Belarusian forces of firing shots into the air in a border area where migrants caught between the neighboring countries have set up a makeshift camp. The ministry posted a video on Twitter with noises of what sounded like shots.

Belarus' State Border Guard Committee said in a post on the Telegram messaging app Wednesday that four men of Kurdish descent in the makeshift migrant camp at the border were injured. The committee accused Poland's security forces of inflicting the injuries.

"According to the refugees, they were detained on the territory of Poland, where they tried to ask for protection and refugee status. Judging by the numerous injuries.. the Polish security forces mistreated the men and forcibly pushed them out through a barbed fence on the border with Belarus," read the post accompanied by pictures of bloodied individuals.

It is impossible to independently verify the information. Independent journalists face limits to their reporting in autocratic Belarus, while a state of emergency in Poland also prevents journalists from entering a zone along the border.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who met with the European Council president on Wednesday, has described the current situation as the first time in 30 years that "the integrity of our borders is being tested." Poland threw off Moscow-backed communist rule three decades ago.

Morawiecki also suggested on Tuesday that Russia was behind the migration pressure from Belarus. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected the suggestion as "unacceptable."

"We consider statements by the Polish prime minister that Russia is responsible for this situation absolutely irresponsible and unacceptable," Peskov said.

The German Interior Ministry warned that "unauthorized transport and possible unauthorized entry" could have criminal consequences, DPA reported.

Migrant Aid
Migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere lineup to get a humanitarian aid gathering at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, on November 10, 2021. The German government said Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene with Belarus over the migrant situation on that country's border with Poland. Merkel spoke with Putin by phone on Wednesday. Leonid Shcheglov/BelTA via AP