Situation on border with Belarus a real threat, Polish gov't spokesman

Marcin Onufryjuk/PAP

A government spokesman has stated that Poland has been facing a real threat posed by the situation on its border with Belarus, with regard to both migration and the Zapad 2021 (West 2021) military exercise.

"These are not easy times and one should make it clear that we are in a situation of a real threat," Piotr Mueller told a Polish public television TVP programme on Thursday and explained that this threat "has been posed by both the migration operation organised by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the Russian and Belarusian joint military exercise."

According to the spokesman, "something could happen during the Zapad 2021 exercise conducted jointly by Russia and Belarus, allegedly by accident, on the border with Poland or Lithuania and Latvia."

"This is a way to test defence abilities of neighbouring countries," Mueller said, adding that one should remember what had happened in the Crimea, Georgia or eastern Ukraine.

"These are the facts, these are the military operations, and, unfortunately, one could not rule out any far-reaching moves in the near and more distant future," he stated.

According to Mueller, Middle Eastern migrants had for many weeks been brought to Belarus. "This is around 10,000 people who could cross the borders of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania," he said.

In recent weeks Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have observed increasing numbers of migrants crossing into their territories from Belarus. The three countries have accused Belarus of deliberately sending migrants to their borders in an effort to destabilise the EU.

Around 30 Middle Eastern migrants have been camped for the past three weeks on the Polish-Belarusian border after being refused entry by Poland.

ZAPAD 2021 is a 13-day exercise, planned to end on September 16.

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