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The Belarus-Poland Migrant Crisis In Eastern Europe: A Timeline.

The Belarus-Poland Migrant Crisis In Eastern Europe: A Timeline

The Lukashenko family was accused of attempts to traffic people to Europe via Turkey and Dubai. (File)

Paris:

As the migrant crisis with Belarus grows on the European Union's eastern frontier in Poland, here is a timeline of the confrontation with Europe's last dictator.

Revenge for sanctions

Belarus, which borders EU members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, in June hints that it will stop countering illegal migration after it pulls out of the bloc's Eastern Partnership scheme, in retaliation for sanctions slapped on Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko after his crackdown on opponents during last year's disputed election there.

The partnership with six other former Soviet republics -- Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Azerbaijan -- offers closer economic ties in exchange for reforms.

Lithuania scared

On July 9, Lithuania says it is building a wall along its border with Belarus after a "frightening" number of migrants -- mostly from the Middle East and Africa -- arrive there.

Lithuania has become a refuge for the Belarussian opposition and many fleeing the country since the repression after the presidential election in August 2020.

On August 10, Vilnius declares a state of emergency along the frontier.

Poland pushes migrants back

Poland, which has been building a razor-wire border fence, declares a state of emergency along its eastern frontier on September 7, banning non-residents and the media from the area.

Humanitarian charities accuse Poland of illegal round-ups of migrants and of forcing them back into Belarus.

In mid-October Poland legalises migrant pushbacks.

First migrants die

On September 11, German Chancellor Angela Merkel accuses Belarus of "hybrid attacks" by helping migrants to the EU border.

Nine days later, after four migrants are found dead, Poland accuses Belarus and Russia -- Belarus's main ally -- of being behind the migrant wave.

At least 10 migrants have died in the region -- including seven on the Polish side -- according to the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza.

Barbed wire and walls

Twelve EU countries including Austria, Greece and Poland demand that Brussels help finance border fences on October 8, but the EU says it won't pay for "barbed wire and walls".

On October 25, Poland says it is sending 10,000 troops to its border with Belarus. In the following days, its parliament backs the construction of a border wall.

Lukashenko family accused

Paris accuses the Lukashenko family of being behind attempts to traffic people to Europe via Turkey and Dubai on October 27.

Days later, Poland protests to Belarus after it claims armed men in uniform made an incursion onto its territory from Belarus.

Escalation fears

On Monday, Poland says it fears an armed escalation with 3,000 to 4,000 migrants now massing at the border.

Two days later, it accuses Belarus' capital Minsk of "state terrorism" and Moscow of orchestrating the migrant crisis.

NATO -- of which Poland, Latvia and Lithuania are members -- warns that the Lukashenko regime's use of migrants as a "hybrid tactic is unacceptable".

EU President Ursula von der Leyen calls for new sanctions against Minsk, while the United States says it firmly condemns "the orchestrated instrumentalisation of human beings whose lives and wellbeing have been put in danger for political purposes by Belarus."

Cut the gas

After Lukashenko threatens to cut gas supplies to Europe, Moscow says Friday that he did not ask them and they will continue to honour their contracts.

But later the Kremlin announces paratrooper drills with Belarus near the Polish border while the EU says Russian military activity near the Ukraine border is worrying.

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