Polish president accuses Belarus of hybrid attack

Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Polish President Andrzej Duda at a UN General Assembly session on Tuesday accused Belarus of staging a hybrid attack against Poland and the Baltic states.

Duda, whose address focused on solidarity towards poor countries and human rights, accused the Alexander Lukashenko regime of launching an attack against NATO's and EU's eastern members and of instrumental use of the migration issue.

"For many weeks, the Alexander Lukashenko regime has been bringing tens of thousands of desperate people from the Middle East to his country who are later forced through the use of police batons to cross our borders and in a bid to stir an artificial 'humanitarian crisis'," Duda said.

"These people are later camped at the border while the regime completely ignores our offers to deliver humanitarian aid," Duda added.

"These people, these immigrants, are treated by the regime as pawns in a political game, with their dignity and fundamental rights being violated," the Polish president said.

Duda stressed that Poland will not change its current policy and will continue to protect its borders.

He also said Minsk's brutal actions against its neighbours and its own people have failed to attract proper international attention due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Since August 2020, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets every day to stage peaceful protests, demanding a single thing: to respect the results of the election," Duda said. "But they have only faced the police baton, tear gas and even bullets from the regime that is defending itself against its own nation."

Duda said Minsk has imprisoned some 650 mostly young people for political reasons, including leaders of the Polish minority in Belarus. "We demand their release and bigger international solidarity," he said.

For more than a year, Belarus has been gripped by mass protests against the Lukashenko regime, with hundreds of his opponents detained and many exiled. Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for nearly three decades, claims to have won a presidential election in August 2020, but his critics and the West say the vote was rigged.