EC head expresses solidarity with Poland, Baltics over migrant crisis

"Belarus must stop putting people's lives at risk," Von der Leyen said. "The instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes by Belarus is unacceptable." Olivier Hoslet/PAP/EPA

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed solidarity with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia on Monday over an escalating migration crisis on their borders with Belarus.

Von der Leyen also called for EU member states to "finally approve the extended sanctions regime on the Belarusian authorities responsible for this hybrid attack."

Following a months-long period of increased migratory pressure on the Belarusian border which the EU has blamed on a policy of Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko regime aimed at destabilising the EU, on Monday thousands of migrants tried to force the border with Poland.

In her statement, Von der Leyen said the EU would "explore how to sanction, including through blacklisting, third country airlines that are active in human trafficking."

She said she had spoken to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts to express solidarity with them and to "discuss with them the measures the EU can take to support them in their efforts to deal with this crisis."

"Belarus must stop putting people's lives at risk," Von der Leyen said. "The instrumentalisation of migrants for political purposes by Belarus is unacceptable."

She also said that "pressuring the EU" through the "cynical instrumentalisation of migrants" would not help Belarus achieve its goals.

She added that the EU would explore together with UN bodies how to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the border zone.