Poland said it had seen a surge in attempts to breach its border and had pushed back hundreds of migrants to Belarus.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene with Belarus over the migrant situation on that country’s border with Poland.
The chancellor’s office said Merkel spoke with Putin on Wednesday by phone and “underlined the fact that the instrumentalisation of migrants against the European Union by the Belarusian regime is inhuman and completely unacceptable, and asked the Russian president to exert his influence on the regime in Minsk.”
But Putin suggested the European Union should engage in "direct contacts" with Minsk on the issue, the Kremlin said in a separate statement from Moscow about the phone call.
The readout of the call released by the Kremlin said Putin “proposed to establish a discussion of the problems that have arisen in direct contacts of representatives of the EU member states with Minsk.” It also said that Putin and Merkel “agreed to continue the conversation on the issue.”
Polish authorities on Wednesday said that groups of migrants again tried to push into Poland from neighbouring Belarus.
EU leaders accuse Lukashenko of opening new route
Poland’s Defense Ministry and local police reported that multiple groups of migrants tried to enter the country late Tuesday and early Wednesday but that all the people who made it were detained. Hundreds of migrants have been camping since Monday on the Belarus side of the border, near the village of Kuznica.
Poland’s Defence Ministry also accused Belarusian forces of firing shots into the air in a border area where migrants caught between the neighbouring countries have set up a makeshift camp. The ministry posted a video on Twitter with noises of what sounded like shots.
For months there has been heavy migration by people from the Middle East seeking to enter Poland, Lithuania and to a lesser degree Latvia, all located on the EU's eastern border.
EU leaders accuse the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of opening up a new migration route into Europe to create instability in retaliation for sanctions the bloc imposed on Lukashenko’s authoritarian government.
The EU imposed the sanctions over a brutal crackdown on domestic dissent following Lukashenko's disputed election to a sixth term in August 2020.
Caught in the bitter political standoff have been thousands of migrants, some of them families with children, who have been pushed back and forth in a forested area of swamps and bogs.
Russia is a close ally of the government in Belarus. Germany is a favoured destination for migrants who arrive in the European Union.