“The instrumentalization of migrants by the Belarussian regime is inhumane and unacceptable,” Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation.
According to government spokesman Stephen Seibert, the subject of the conversation was the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, with the Chancellor urging President Putin to “exercise his influence” on the Minsk regime.
Kremlin blames EU for “imminent disaster”
The Kremlin today blamed the European Union for the migration crisis on the border between Belarus and Poland, saying it was failing to uphold its own humanitarian values and was trying to “strangle” Belarus with plans to close part of the border.
“It is obvious that a humanitarian catastrophe is imminent against a background of Europeans’ reluctance to show commitment to their European values,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peshkov told a news conference.
Peshkov described as “absolutely irresponsible and unacceptable” a comment by Polish Prime Minister Matteo Morawiecki yesterday, Tuesday, who said the crisis was “planned in Moscow”.
Russia is Belarus’ strongest ally, and its support has helped President Alexander Lukashenko survive mass protests against his rule in the run-up to last year’s disputed presidential election.
The latest phase of the crisis, in which Poland reported new attempts by large numbers of migrants to cross the border overnight, has given Moscow an opportunity to insist on its support for Belarus and criticize the EU.
Peshkov said the EU had in the past allowed similar groups of migrants to cross and its moves now to close the border were directed against Minsk.
“It’s nothing more than another attempt to really strangle Belarus,” he added.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met today in Moscow with his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makey and both criticized the EU’s handling of the crisis, saying it had refused to engage in dialogue with Minsk.
Meanwhile, according to the Russian news agency RIA, quoted by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Russian strategic bombers flew over Belarus.
The Tu-22M3 bombers patrolled the airspace and helped test the joint Belarusian-Russian air defense system, the Russian Defense Ministry said.