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Putin has hit us but will lose, says interior minister

Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński stated in an interview with the weekly “Sieci” that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in league with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka over the migration situation at the Poland-Belarus border.

In the interview, Mr Kamiński, who is also the minister-coordinator of special services, elaborated on the situation at the Polish-Belarusian border, where a state of emergency has been in force for a month due to increased migratory pressure, that Warsaw blames on Minsk.

“Putin is testing how strong our country is,” Mr Kamiński said. “The more weakness we show the more brutal the interference in our affairs will be. Russia has always been based on the weakness of the West.. we must show our determination,” he stressed.

“Perhaps Lukashenko hopes that he will force the European Union to lift the sanctions, so as to recognise him as the legal president,” Mr Kamiński said in the interview. “But more important here is Putin, who would like to control the migrant tap, tightening and loosening it at will. And at the same time he can hide behind the Belarusian dictator and pretend he has nothing to do with it,” he added.

“We know that in recent days a decision has been taken on agreements with further countries on the issue of visa-free movement,” he explained. “Among these countries is Pakistan, where we have a large group of refugees from Afghanistan, but also South Africa, from where migrants from other parts of Africa can easily come to Europe, or Jordan, where there is a huge reservoir of Syrian refugees. Belarusian airlines are launching further connections. Planes are leaving from Beirut and Damascus, the number of flights from Turkey has increased,” the minister stressed.

The interior minister went to say that due to Poland’s “firm and consistent stance”, Lukashenka’s regime will start to have problems. “He was convinced that due to political correctness we would accept and legalise all (the migrants),” Mr Kamiński said. “If for example Iraqi citizens come, there is no basis to give them refugee status, because as in the Middle East, the situation there has been quite stable for several years,” he explained.

Mr Kamiński added that the current situation represented a threat to Lukashenka himself and that Poland had information from intelligence and diplomatic sources that normal Belarusians were becoming progressively disenchanted with what is happening as they see hundreds of people from Asia and Africa in their cities in the evenings.

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have accused the government of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the Belarusian president, of bringing migrants from the Middle East and then pushing them across the EU border in an effort to destabilise the EU in retaliation for sanctions that Brussels has imposed on Minsk.

On Thursday evening, Poland extended a state of emergency along its eastern border, introduced for 30 days on September 2, for another 60 days.

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