The Foreign Secretary has urged Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to intervene in the “shameful manufactured migrant crisis” unfolding at the border between Belarus and Poland.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Liz Truss says Russia has a “clear responsibility” to end the escalating migrant stand-off, adding the UK “will not look away”.
A large number of migrants are in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of the border, with Polish authorities reporting daily new attempts by the migrants to breach the divide.
The Belarusian defence ministry has accused Poland of an “unprecedented” military build-up on the border, saying migration control did not warrant the concentration of 15,000 troops backed by tanks, air defence assets and other weapons.
The European Union has accused Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, of encouraging illegal border crossings as a “hybrid attack” to retaliate against the bloc’s sanctions on his government for its crackdown on domestic protests after his disputed 2020 re-election.
Belarus denies the allegations but says it will no longer stop refugees and migrants from trying to enter the EU.
Ms Truss has called on the Kremlin to intervene in the crisis, writing: “Russia has a clear responsibility here. It must press the Belarusian authorities to end the crisis and enter into dialogue.”
‘We will not look away’
Russia and Belarus have a union agreement envisaging close political and military ties.
Ms Truss added the stand-off “marks the latest step by the Lukashenko regime to undermine regional security.
“He is using desperate migrants as pawns in his bid to create instability and cling on to power, regardless of the human cost,” she wrote.
“The United Kingdom will not look away. We will stand with our allies in the region, who are on the frontier of freedom.”
Her comments come after a small team of British armed forces personnel was deployed to Poland amid growing tension at the border.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Thursday a “small team” was deployed to the area to provide “engineering support”.