Polish government officials said Monday that they are sending 500 additional army troops and special vehicles to the border with Belarus to strengthen it against increasing migrant pressure that they say is orchestrated by Belarus and Russia to destabilize the European Union.
“We are dealing with a well-organized action directed from Minsk and Moscow,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.
“We will defend Poland's border with full determination,” Morawiecki said after a meeting with the interior minister and the head of the Border Guards.
Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said 500 more troops and eight specialized vehicles will be sent to the border this week.
EU members Poland and Lithuania are facing increasing migrant pressures on their borders with Belarus, which are part of the bloc’s eastern border. They say it is a “hybrid attack” by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Minsk that is aimed at destabilizing the 27-nation EU.
Morawiecki noted, however, that care will be extended to those migrants who reached Poland but require medical help.
He said that three migrants, including an Iraqi man, found dead Sunday close to the Belarusian border died from hypothermia and exhaustion.
Polish border guards were also able to see the body of a woman close to the border, on the Belarus side, according to Border Guards chief, Gen. Tomasz Praga.
Morawiecki and Kaminski said they have knowledge that migrants from the Middle East and Africa are paying big money in Belarus, some $2,500, for an “illusion” of a transfer to Germany, but then are left by Belarusian servicemen in the forests or bogs on the border with Poland.
They said Belarus has introduced visa-free travel with some Middle East countries that have “migration potential” to bring in migrants and push them toward Poland and Lithuania.
Poland and Lithuania are building razor wire fences, have increased border patrols and have introduced a temporary state of emergency along their borders to stop illegal migration.
Authorities said there were over 8,000 attempts at illegal crossing from Belarus this year, including over 3,800 attempts so far in September.