NATO Restates Support for Poland Over Illegal Immigrant Crisis in Belarus

By Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
November 16, 2021 Updated: November 16, 2021

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expressed concern on Tuesday about the escalating crisis on the European Unions’ borders with Belarus, offering support to Poland.

The head of the alliance said that Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko is putting the lives of illegal immigrants at risk by “instrumentalizing” them as a “hybrid tactic against other countries.”

“We are deeply concerned about the way the Lukashenko regime is using vulnerable migrants as a hybrid tactic against other countries and he is putting the lives of the migrants at risk,” NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

“We stand in solidarity with Poland and other affected allies,” he added, noting that NATO is also ready to continue to support and consult closely with the allies involved.

EU ambassadors have agreed last week that the growing numbers of illegal immigrants flying to Belarus to reach the EU border amount to “hybrid warfare” by Lukashenko—which serves as a basis for a new round of sanctions on Minsk.

The new round of sanctions is set to target Belarusian officials that the EU says have organized arrivals of the migrants in revenge for sanctions on Minsk over human rights abuses.

Belarus has repeatedly denied any such operations and rejects all Western accusations of wrongdoing, saying it, not the EU, is a “victim” of a “hybrid attack” using unconventional warfare tactics.

Stoltenberg restating support for Poland comes just days after also Lithuania and Latvia announced they are planning to ask NATO to hold emergency talks as they struggle to manage a tense migration standoff on their borders with Belarus.

Belarus EU
A group of migrants moves along the Belarusian-Polish border towards a camp to join those gathered at the spot and aiming to enter EU member Poland, in the Grodno region on Nov. 12, 2021. (Leonid Shcheglov/Belta/AFP via Getty Images)

Latvia, a member of the EU and NATO, has deployed 3,000 troops for a previously unannounced military exercise near its border with Belarus this weekend amid an escalating illegal immigration crisis along the Belarusian-Polish border.

The military drill began on Saturday and is scheduled to last until Dec. 12, army spokeswoman Sandra Brale told the BNS news wire.

In a message to Belarus, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks told the national broadcaster that the country’s army movements are “not just for fun.”

Thousands of illegal immigrants have recently traveled to Belarus in the hope of crossing into the EU, only to find themselves trapped on the border in freezing conditions.

Some humanitarian groups have claimed that Poland is violating the international right to asylum by pushing illegal immigrants back into Belarus instead of accepting their applications. Warsaw has said its actions are legal.

Ella Kietlinska and Reuters contributed to this report.

From NTD News