The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Lukashenko to hold second call with Merkel amid migrant crisis.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday he would have a second phone call with German chancellor Angela Merkel amid a push to end a migrant crisis on the Belarusian border with the European Union, the state Belta news agency reported.

Mr Lukashenko said that following their first phone call on Monday, Ms Merkel had taken time to discuss with other EU nations a proposal by Minsk to resolve the crisis, Belta said.

It comes after the EU agreed new sanctions against Belarus on Monday in a bid to stop the regime sending people from the Middle East to try to enter member states.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said about 18,000 people have been flown to the border “from Syria, from Iraq, from Afghanistan, on the promise that they’re going to be allowed into the European Union”.

At least nine people have died on the border, where there are small children among the large crowds of people attempting to keep warm in sub-zero nighttime temperatures.

Travel agencies and airlines including Belarusian state carrier Belavia are expected to be sanctioned for their role in transporting the people. More than half of Belavia’s fleet of planes are leased by Irish companies, and the sanctions will interrupt these agreements, potentially causing financial losses or the stranding of planes abroad.

Diplomats have been in talks with Middle Eastern governments and have succeeded in halting flights to Minsk from several origin cities. The Iraqi government announced it would organise an evacuation flight back to Baghdad from Belarus for any of its citizens who wish to return.

Some EU countries called for tougher action, with Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis proposing the imposition of a no-fly zone into Minsk airport and “legal consequences for the people in the regime who participated in bringing all the people to Belarus and producing so much human tragedy on the border”.

British prime minister accused Mr Lukashenko of an “abhorrent” attempt to engineer a migrant crisis on the border with Poland in an effort to undermine European unity.

Ukraine

Earlier in the day, Downing Street also voiced concern about the build-up of Russian forces on its border with Ukraine. Russia dismissed claims that it is preparing to invade, after the Ukrainian defence ministry reported that about 90,000 Russian troops were massing in the area.

However, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are seeing a concerning situation at the border. We remain in unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and will continue to support them in face of Russian hostility.”

Mr Johnson warned that the west must soon choose between reliance on Russian gas and standing up for Ukraine after Belarus raised the possibility of cutting Russian natural gas flows to Europe. – Additional reporting from Reuters, Guardian

How can Omicron transmission be reduced?

How can Omicron transmission be reduced?

Sky's Paul Kelso looks at how different countries are reacting to the new Omicron variant. SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Like us on Facebook: Follow us on Instagram: For more content go to and download our...

Holiday Road in Leesburg, VA, Marks Start of Christmas Season.

Holiday Road in Leesburg, VA, Marks Start of Christmas Season.

Holiday Road in Leesburg, Virginia is a drive into a fairytale Originally published at -

Russia-Ukraine tensions take over Reagan Defense Forum.

Russia-Ukraine tensions take over Reagan Defense Forum.

Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier reports live from the Reagan National Defense Forum. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news servi...

COVID-19: Pre-departure tests return for all UK arrivals.

COVID-19: Pre-departure tests return for all UK arrivals.

All travellers coming into the UK from early Tuesday will have to test negative for COVID before they arrive, the government has announced. It follows days of pressure from Labour and the governments in Scotland and Wales. The Health Secretary Saj...

Thousands Block Belgrade Highway in Protest Over Land Laws.

Thousands Block Belgrade Highway in Protest Over Land Laws.

Thousands of people blocked a section of highway through Serbia's capital, Belgrade, Saturday, in protest against new laws environmentalists say will let foreign companies exploit local resources. READ MORE: Serbia's government has offered mining ...

Arthur Labinjo-Jones: Prison sentences of six-year-old's killers to be reviewed by attorney general.

Arthur Labinjo-Jones: Prison sentences of six-year-old's killers to be reviewed by attorney general.

The sentences for the killers of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes are to be reviewed by the attorney general "to determine whether they were too low". SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Like us on Facebook: F...