Poland Adds 2,000 Troops to Border Guard After Migrants Try to Enter by Force From Belarus

Poland will be increasing the security around its border with Belarus after a series of incidents involving migrants.

This announcement directly responded to a large group of migrants attempting to cross the border from Belarus. A video published by Belarusian media showed people trying to enter Poland using uprooted trees and various thrown objects. However, the Associated Press reported that there is "no way to independently verify" the events in the video due to Belarus's barring of journalists.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding the video, Poland is taking extra precautions against its eastern neighbor. The country is accusing Belarus of encouraging Middle Eastern migrants to cross the borders of its neighboring countries, particularly Poland. Lithuania and Latvia have also experienced similar migrant surges.

The Associated Press received a statement from Belarus State Border Guard Committee spokesman Anton Bychkovsky. It stated that the migrants are attempting to "exercise their right to apply for refugee status in the EU," further explaining that they "are not a security threat."

However, other officials seem to disagree. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently spoke to reporters and accused Belarus of "acting as a human trafficker."

"It instrumentalizes refugees and migrants in a way that's politically and from a humanitarian point of view condemnable," said spokesman Steffen Seibert, "and Europe will make a united stand against this continuous hybrid attack."

Belarus denies any wrongdoing in these recent incidents.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Polish Border Authorities
A picture taken on November 8 shows Poland's law enforcement officers watching migrants at the Belarusian-Polish border. Poland on November 8 said hundreds of migrants in Belarus were descending on its border aiming to force their way into the EU member in what NATO slammed as a deliberate tactic by Minsk. Photo by Leonid Shcheglov/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images

Bychkovsky added that, according to the refugees, they gathered into such a large group in order to avoid "forcible ousting by the Polish side."

But the massing of a large number of people was viewed as a threat by Poland and other European countries, including Germany—the main destination for many of the migrants.

The European Union said it hoped that Poland, an EU member state, would finally accept help from Frontex, the border agency, a step Poland's ruling nationalists have so far refused.

In Brussels, a spokesman for the European Commission, Adalbert Jahnz called it "a continuation of the desperate attempt by the [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko regime to use people as pawns to destabilize the European Union and of course the values that we stand for."

He suggested that the Commission would like Poland to request Frontex help, saying that the best way to manage a common border is with shared resources. He confirmed that Poland has not requested this help so far.

Frontex, which is headquartered in Warsaw, refused to comment on the situation, noting that it is not present at the border.

Bix Aliu, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Warsaw, tweeted in Polish that Lukashenko's regime was risking the migrants' lives and "using them to escalate the border crisis and provoke Poland."

"Hostile actions by Belarus are exacerbating the situation on the border with the EU and NATO dangerously and must end immediately," he said.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter that more than 12,000 soldiers have been deployed to the border, up from the 10,000 soldiers that were there recently. He added that a volunteer Territorial Defense force was put on alert.

He also posted video footage of what appeared to be a large group of migrants in Belarus, near Kuznica, in northeastern Poland.

Polish ministers with security-related mandates were holding an emergency meeting, with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki writing on Facebook: "The border of the Polish state is not just a line on the map. This border is something sacred for which the blood of generations of Poles has been shed!"

Meanwhile, in neighboring Lithuania, officials were preparing for the possibility of a similar incursion, with the Interior Ministry proposing to declare an emergency situation and the border guards regrouping. "We are getting ready for all possible scenarios," said Rustamas Liubajevas, the head of border guards.

Since the summer, Poland and Lithuania have faced the pressure of migrants from the Middle East and Africa trying to cross into the EU. Poland has sought to block the attempts or send those they catch back into Belarus.

Warsaw and the EU said it's an organized action by the Belarusian government aimed at destabilizing the bloc in retaliation for Western sanctions.

Belarusian political analyst Valery Karbalevich agreed. He told the AP that the Moscow-backed Lukashenko regime seemed to be trying to use the migrants "to scare" the EU and get leverage to get the EU to drop sanctions imposed last year.

"The largest attack of migrants on EU borders is taking place three days after Belarus and Russia signed a new agreement on military cooperation. The Kremlin is at least aware of the details of what's happening," Karbalevich said.

Poland Border
Poland is accusing Belarus of encouraging Middle Eastern migrants to cross the borders of its neighboring countries. In this September 1 file photo, Polish security forces block migrants stuck on the border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland. AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file