Poland to expel Belarusian defence attache in retaliation, MFA says

Bobrowniki was one of only two border crossings on the Polish-Belarusian border that had remained available to trucks. Artur Reszko/PAP

Poland is expelling the Belarusian defence attache after Minsk told three Polish diplomats to leave Belarus, a spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry has said.

Last Friday, the Belarusian foreign ministry announced the expulsion of a Polish border guard liaison officer as well as restrictions on Polish hauliers as retaliatory steps for Poland's closure of one of its two truck border crossing with Belarus.

The ministry said at the time that the number of staff at the Polish General Consulate in Grodno, western Belarus, should be made equal with the staff of the Belarusian General Consulate in Bialystok, northeast Poland.

On Monday, the Polish foreign ministry confirmed that Belarus had decided to expel two Polish diplomats from Grodno.

On Thursday, Lukasz Jasina, spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry, told PAP that "In the near future, the Belarusian defence attache will leave Poland."

"This is Poland's response to Minsk's decision to expel from Belarus a liaison officer of the Polish Border Guard and two employees of the Polish consulate in Grodno," he added.

Jasina also confirmed that the go-between of the Polish border guard in Minsk and two Polish consuls had already left Belarus.

Earlier this month, Poland shut down a key border crossing into Belarus at Bobrowniki, in the north-east of the country, after Andrzej Poczobut, a Polish-Belarusian activist and journalist, was sentenced to eight years in a penal colony for "instigating hatred against religious and national groups, and rehabilitating Nazism."

Bobrowniki was one of only two border crossings on the Polish-Belarusian border that had remained available to trucks.

Under the restrictions imposed by Minsk on Polish hauliers, they are able to enter Belarus only across the Polish-Belarusian border. That means Polish truckers are not able to cross into Belarus from Lithuania or Latvia.

In line with a decision by the Polish interior minister, Mariusz Kaminski, Belarusian cargo traffic at another border crossing in Kukuryki-Kozlowicze was limited from Tuesday evening.

Earlier, Poland closed two other crossings with Belarus in the wake of the 2021 migration crisis when thousands of people tried to get into Poland from Belarus after the Belarusian strongman, Alexander Lukashenko, invited migrants from the Middle East and Africa to his country under a false promise of easy access to the EU.