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Belarus retaliates after Poland shuts down border crossing

Belarus has banned Polish hauliers from using its border crossings with Latvia and Lithuania after Poland closed one of its two truck border crossings with Belarus.

Last week, Poland shut down the important crossing at Bobrowniki, in the north-east of the country, after Andrzej Poczobut, a Polish-Belarusian activist and journalist, was sentenced to eight years in a penal colony for “instigating hatred against religious and national groups, and rehabilitating Nazism.” The court ruling was strongly criticised by Poland and the West.

Bobrowniki was one of only two border crossings on the Polish-Belarusian border that had remained available to trucks. Earlier, Poland closed two other crossings with Belarus in the wake of the 2021 migration crisis when thousands of people tried to get into Poland from Belarus after the Belarusian strongman, Alexander Lukashenko, invited migrants from the Middle East and Africa to his country under a false promise of easy access to the EU.

“Polish hauliers returning from or going to Belarus are only cleared at the Kukuryki-Koroszczyn crossing (in eastern Poland – PAP),” Polish Border Guard spokesperson, Anna Michalska, told PAP on Saturday.

“Due to restrictions implemented by Belarus, Polish hauliers may not use (Belarusian – PAP) border crossings with Lithuania and Latvia,” she added.

The Belarusian foreign ministry announced the move on Friday in response to Poland’s closure of its key crossing.

The Polish interior minister commented on Friday that Warsaw would respond accordingly.

“If Belarusian authorities implement the said restrictions against Polish hauliers, Poland’s reaction towards Belarusian hauliers will be identical,” Kaminski wrote on Twitter.

Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, commented on Minsk’s decision on Saturday, saying that “Poland has fair and good intentions and wants to have good relations with its neighbours.

“But if someone is aggressive towards us, they can expect a tough response,” Duda said.

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