Polish PM accuses Kremlin of masterminding migrant crisis

The prime minister made the accusation while presenting a report on the situation at the Polish-Belarusian border in parliament on Tuesday. Paweł Supernak/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has accused Moscow of pursuing an imperial policy and instigating a migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border.

The prime minister made the accusation while presenting a report on the situation at the Polish-Belarusian border in parliament on Tuesday.

Morawiecki said that "Russia's imperial policy is progressing and Moscow's subsequent steps are spread over time."

According to Morawiecki, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is a mere tool in the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wants to restore Russia's global position.

"It is the first such situation in 30 years when we can say that the security and integrity of our borders are being so brutally attacked and tested," the prime minister said.

Morawiecki also appealed for unity across the Polish political scene, saying politicians should forget "who is from a left-wing, right-wing, liberal, conservative or any other party."

"Although the Sejm (lower house of parliament - PAP) is a place where different positions are subject to dispute, today only one interest should dominate here, the national interest of Poland," he said.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said that Poland was being subjected to a hybrid war from the east, whose aim was to stir up internal conflicts and create rifts in Polish society.

"The aim is to create as big an internal conflict as possible among Poles, politicians, and to polarise us," Kamiński said. "For us to jump down one another's throats, fight and show our weakness in a situation of danger."

The opposition parties supported the government's national security arguments and agreed the crisis had its origins in Minsk and Moscow, but they also said the government had made mistakes in handling the crisis and failed to ensure strong international support.

Włodzimierz Czarzasty, leader of The Left, admitted that Poland must protect its borders, but said that "every migrant who manages to cross this protected border should receive help in Poland."

He also said the push-back tactic that Poland uses, in which illegal migrants are sent back to Belarus, is a violation of international law and called it a "disgrace" when such actions affect women and children.

Tomasz Siemoniak, a Civic Platform member and former defence minister, has suggested that Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, known for his strong anti-EU stance, should give the prime minister "a hundred days of peace in EU matters" to facilitate better EU support for Poland.

Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, head of the pro-agrarian Polish People's Party, said that the prime minister should have sent a motion to call a meeting of the European Council a long time ago.

"The involvement of all EU structures and experience is required, for example from (EU border agency - PAP) Frontex," Kosiniak-Kamysz said.

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have accused the government of Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, of bringing migrants from the Middle East and Africa, and then pushing them across the EU border in an effort to destabilise the EU in retaliation for sanctions that Brussels has imposed on Minsk.