WARSAW, Poland—Poland accused Belarus on Nov. 3 of staging an armed cross-border intrusion and said it had summoned the Belarusian charge d’affaires in protest over what it said was “a deliberate escalation” of the migrant crisis at the frontier.
Belarus rejected the allegation as unfounded and intended to sully its image. Minsk also denies Polish and European Union accusations that it’s deliberately encouraging illegal migrants to enter Poland and other EU states via Belarusian territory.
Poland has imposed a state of emergency at the border to stem a surge in the number of migrants from countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq trying to enter its territory via Belarus.
Poland’s foreign ministry said unidentified uniformed individuals armed with long guns had crossed into Polish territory from Belarus on the night of Nov. 1.
“Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk forwarded an emphatic protest … against the violation of the Polish state border, emphasizing that the actions taken by the Belarusian authorities in recent weeks have the increasingly evident hallmarks of a deliberate escalation,” the ministry said in a statement.
“[He] pointed out that Poland deems such actions unacceptable and will not tolerate them … and urged the Belarusian side to explain the incident immediately.”
‘Escalation of Tension’
Belarusian State Border Guard Committee spokesperson Anton Bychkovsky denied the accusation, which he said was aimed at allowing Poland to extend its state of emergency at the border.
“This suggests that the main purpose of these actions lies in the field of the escalation of tension and further attempts to create a negative image of Belarus,” the official Belta news agency quoted him as saying.
The summoning of Belarusian envoy Alexander Chesnovsky, which took place on Nov. 2, was the third time in a month that he has been called to answer questions about the situation at the border, where hundreds have been trying to cross illegally every day.
The European Commission and Warsaw say the flow of migrants has been orchestrated by Belarus as a form of hybrid warfare designed to pressure the EU over sanctions it imposed on Minsk. Belarus denies this.
By Pawel Florkiewicz, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, and Matthias Williams