France: Liz Truss warns to ‘stop threatening’ UK
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At least 4,000 asylum-seekers from the Middle East are currently stranded at the Polish border in freezing weather as they try to enter the EU via Poland and Lithuania. The European Union has accused Belarus of mounting a “hybrid attack” to destabilise the bloc by flying in thousands of migrants from war-torn areas and encouraging them to cross the border into the EU illegally.
According to Liz Truss, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko “crafted” this crisis.
“We are not just standing side by side with Poland as it bears the brunt of this shameful manufactured migrant crisis, but also the others in the Visegrad Four – Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – and our friends in the Baltics and Ukraine,” wrote the Foreign Secretary.
She said the operation is a subterfuge “to divert attention away from the litany of abhorrent acts and human rights violations that the regime has already committed.”
She added: “Since the fraudulent election in August 2020, we have seen members of the opposition, journalists and activists beaten, jailed and killed, while others have been forced into exile.
“Russia has a clear responsibility here.
“It must press the Belarusian authorities to end the crisis and enter into dialogue.”
An ally of Putin, Mr Lukashenko recently asked Russia to move its nuclear-capable missiles to the border with the EU.
“I’ve been pestering your president: I really need those 500 kilometre-range missile systems,” he told a Russian journalist on SAT/yesterday.
“Let them stay here.”
Russia did dispatch paratroopers to the Belarusian side of the border, where hundreds of Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis are attempting to cross.
Warsaw has responded by moving 15,000 troops to the frontier and erecting barbed wire fences.
Ms Truss praised the decision to send British troops to Poland.
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“We are proud to be the first European country to assist Poland by agreeing to send a small team of personnel to provide engineering support to ease pressure at the border.”
The Foreign Secretary says the current crisis should propel European countries to reduce their dependence on Russia for energy.
Mr Lukanshenko had previously threatened to cut off a key gas pipeline to Europe before Russia distanced itself from the intimidation tactic.
The EU has agreed to Nord Stream 2, a 745-mile pipeline running from Russia’s Baltic shore to northeastern Germany although both the US and the UK warned the project could make Europe even more dependent on Russian gas.
“I want our friends across Europe to join us,” wrote Ms Truss.
“That means standing together, for example in opposing the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“It risks undermining European security by allowing Russia to tighten its grip on those nations who rely on its gas, despite the pandemic reminding us about the importance of having diverse supply chains to avoid being strategically dependent on unreliable partners.”
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