Poland has warned of a possible “armed” escalation on its border with Belarus, fearing its neighbour may try to provoke an incident with hundreds of migrants seeking to cross into the EU. Extra troops have been deployed after desperate crowds tried to cut a barbed-wire border fence. Poland, the European Union and Nato say Belarus is orchestrating the problem, a claim denied by its disputed leader.
Poland says it is shutting a major border crossing at Kuznica. As many as 4,000 people are now caught up in the migrant crisis on Poland’s eastern border, officials in Warsaw say. Overnight temperatures at the border have slumped below zero and several people have already died in recent weeks.
EU and Nato members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have all seen a surge in the number of people trying to enter their countries illegally from Belarus in recent months. Many are young men but they include women and children, largely from the Middle East and Asia.
Activists say they are being used as pawns in a political game between non-EU Belarus, run by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, and its neighbours. EU officials complain of a continuing hybrid attack by Belarus.