On Monday, Poland accused Belarus of attempting to incite a major confrontation after video footage showed hundreds of migrants walking towards the Polish border and some attempting to breach the fence with spades and other implements.
Armed Belarusian border guards in combat fatigues were seen escorting a column of people, including families with children, along a highway from the border town of Bruzgi and towards a forest that runs alongside Poland’s Podlaskie region in videos published by Belarusian media on Monday.
The Polish government has scheduled an emergency meeting of the crisis management team for 1 p.m. Central European Time (CET). At the time of publication, the ground situation appears to be stable, with no major incidents.
The latest worrying border situation is seen as an intensification of President Aleksander Lukashenko’s attempt to foment a migrant crisis at Belarus’s borders with the EU. Since the summer, his authoritarian regime has been enticing migrants from the Middle East and Africa to travel to Belarus, where they are herded across the EU borders of Poland and the Baltic states, in a cynical ploy believed to be in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Minsk by the EU for the rigged presidential election in the autumn of 2020 and subsequent violent crackdown on protestors.
According to human rights groups, the Polish government has responded by ordering border guards to push back migrants and declaring a state of emergency along a 3-kilometer stretch of land along the border. As a result, migrants are bounced back and forth between the two sides, with many left to wander the area’s forests for days on end without food or shelter.
Because Poland’s state of emergency prevents media access to the border area, most information about Monday’s events comes from social media posts by migrants or those reposting them, as well as some official statements from the Polish government.
Around 11 a.m. CET, the Polish Ministry of Defense released an aerial video depicting a group of migrants congregating in an area outside Kuznica. Hundreds of migrants can be seen in the footage, appearing to be camped on the other side of the barbed wire that now marks Poland’s border with Belarus.
VIDEOS OF BELARUS AND POLAND BORDER SITUATION
Grupa migrantów znajduje się obecnie w okolicach Kuźnicy pic.twitter.com/w5VxXp9QqQ
— Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej 🇵🇱 (@MON_GOV_PL) November 8, 2021
Around 1pm CET, the Polish Ministry of Interior announced that its troops had foiled an attempt by some members of the migrant group to enter Poland illegally.
🔴 PILNE | Polskie służby udaremniły próbę siłowego przedarcia się na polską stronę przez migrantów na południe od przejścia granicznego w Kuźnicy. Sytuacja została opanowana. pic.twitter.com/iJNvufd524
— MSWiA (@MSWiA_GOV_PL) November 8, 2021
Videos of migrants appear to show Polish border guards using tear gas on migrants approaching the barbed wire.
Polish troops using tear gas against those trying to approach the border fence (and the other way around it seems). Apart from that the situation seems fairly calm so far. pic.twitter.com/9brFsHNIAR
— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) November 8, 2021
Now a new video published by Poland’s Ministry of Defense shows migrants at the border with Belarus destroying the fence.
Migrants are destroying the Polish border fence with special metal scissors.
Video is published by the Polish Interior Ministry.
Via @nashaniva #Belarus #BorderStatus pic.twitter.com/zvRqOIeluc
— Voices from Belarus (@VoicesBelarus) November 8, 2021
Shooting reported at Belarus-Poland border
Migrants on the border report that Belarusian border guards firing shots in the air https://t.co/BQDzrHeBUE #Belarus pic.twitter.com/T7JntNDEiV
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) November 8, 2021