Belarus threatens to disrupt EU gas supplies in dispute over migrants

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has threatened to block Russia’s gas supplies to the rest of Europe amid a row with the European Union over migrants crossing the border.

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Lukashenko said on Wednesday that he was prepared to stop the flow of gas from Russia and not because of the border crisis passing through Belarus.

Russia said it expected Belarus not to suspend gas to the EU, arguing it would “violate” Russia’s obligations to European gas buyers, but defended Mr Lukashenko in the dispute.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Belarus was under “unprecedented, unfair and aggressive” pressure from the EU.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin “expressed his understanding” of Mr Lukashenko’s response.

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The European Union has accused Belarus of flying thousands of people from Middle East countries with the intention of crossing into the bloc through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

In response, Poland has threatened to close its border with Belarus, according to Russian news agency RIA today (December 1).

Yesterday, Polish President Andrzej Duda approved a new law – to replace the state of emergency from today – that allows the government to limit access to areas around the border.

The European Union has now proposed curtailing some of the rights of migrants at the Polish-Belarusian border, where refugee rights groups have said at least 13 people – including a one-year-old child – died during camp in sub-zero temperatures. went.

The European Commission’s proposal would allow Poland, Latvia and Lithuania to claim asylum for the next six months by allowing migrants only in designated places, such as certain border crossings.

Asylum seekers could be held at the border for up to 16 weeks, losing the right to be held in more appropriate centers inside the country, and EU states would be required to offer them basic provisions as their cases are decided. Will go

Erin McKay, the Oxfam charity’s European migration manager, said the plan “puts politics on people’s lives”.

Poland has used new powers to ban media and rights activists operating freely in the border region for three months.

Three EU countries have defended their push-back of migrants without assessing individual cases or giving them a fair chance to claim asylum guaranteed under international humanitarian law.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said there are about 8,000 migrants in the three border countries.

Germany has reported that about 10,000 people had crossed the Belarusian border into the country, while the Belarusian government said there were 10,000 migrants in Belarus.

Ms Johansson said the crisis had eased in recent weeks, with Belarus sending 1,900 migrants back to Iraq and others being driven back across the border.

She said: “Even though the situation is getting worse, we have to be vigilant. The number is not much.

“It is not primarily a migration crisis. It’s a hybrid threat.”

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 1.3 million people sought asylum in its member countries in 2015, with the European Union tightening immigration rules since then.

This figure is almost double the previous high of about 700,000 people in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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