Polish forces were preparing to face an onslaught of armed migrants along their border with Belarus late Sunday after intelligence reports also indicated a build-up of opposing force.
According to the Daily Mail, armed Polish Border Force guards have accused counterparts in Belarus of issuing thousands of migrants arms and equipment along with instructions on how to force their way into the European Union.
The outlet reported that based on intelligence, Polish forces were expecting an attack along a frontier near Kuznica, which is one of two main ports of entry between the two countries. But by Monday, no assaults had taken place, though the situation remains tense.
“After a ‘quiet’ night in the vicinity of the camp in Kuznica, we are currently observing that more groups of armed officers of Belarusian services are located in the place,” a Polish Border Force official told the Daily Mail.
“We are noticing a commotion among migrants. There is also a TV broadcast van,” the official noted further. “Some tents are starting to disappear. Migrants get instructions, equipment and gas from Belarusian services.
“You can see that the Belarus side is getting ready today for a big attempt at crossing the border,” the official said, adding: “Our forces are ready for action.”
Said another spokesman: “Last night there were two attempts to cross the border from Belarus by force, at Dubicze Cerkiewne and Kolonia Klukowicze.
“Yesterday we recorded 223 attempts to illegally cross the border from Belarus,” the second official told the Daily Mail.
Polish authorities also said that soldiers from Belarus, which is allied with Russia, enabled two mass incursions into Poland Sunday evening, during which at least 77 people were detained and summarily deported. But about 150 others managed to evade border forces and are now attempting to secure sanctuary within the European Union.
Poland has also deployed troops along its border with Belarus. There were close to 15,000 personnel deployed as of Sunday evening.
As the situation has gotten worse, however, Reuters notes that Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is seeking guidance, along with Lithuania and Latvia, from NATO in asking that the alliance take “concrete steps” to assure their security.
“It is not enough just for us to publicly express our concern – now we need concrete steps and the commitment of the entire alliance,” Morawiecki said, according to reports.
Under Article 4 of the NATO treaty, any member can request consultations from the organization writ large if they believe their territorial security is at risk.
Some countries in the region have accused Belarus of orchestrating the crisis as a way to get the EU to back off sanctions, but officials in Minsk have denied the allegations. Also, they have accused Russia of helping to foment the crisis after Moscow’s forces staged a military exercise with Belarussian forces ahead of the weekend.
At the same time, the head of NATO is sounding an alarm over the buildup of Russian forces along the border with Ukraine.
“What we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up, we see an unusual concentration of troops and we know Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the 30-nation alliance.
“We call on Russia to be transparent on their military activities, to reduce tensions and to prevent any escalation,” he added after discussions with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels. “This is a clear message from all NATO allies.”
British forces have been put on alert as well after Russia has massed 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border including tanks and artillery.
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