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Belarus appears to be attempting to ease tensions along its border with Poland.
According to the Minsk officials about 7000 refugees are currently strained in Belarus waiting for their chance to enter Europe.
On November 18th, Belarus reportedly moved a big part of refugees away from the main camps near the Polish border.
The State Border Committee of Belarus reported that the main part of asylum seekers had moved into a heated warehouse not far from the border, emptying out their camps. All refugees from a makeshift camp at the Bruzgi checkpoint on the border with Poland voluntarily moved to a logistics center equipped by the authorities to accommodate migrants.
The Polish border guard said the camps on the frontier in western Belarus were now completely empty. Still, Polish security forces arrested around a hundred migrants overnight as they tried to break across the border.
Belarus also released a video from its State Border Committee, alleging it showed Lithuanian border guards with dogs pushing migrants away from the Belarus-Lithuania frontier Tuesday night.
Lithuania denied the claim, releasing its own video of the incident. It blamed Belarusian officials for pushing the group of 13 migrants toward the Lithuanian side and preventing them from returning to Belarus after being stopped by the Lithuanian guards.
The move comes after a flurry of diplomatic activity. Earlier this week, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone twice to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Russian President Vladimir Putin also called on Lukashenko to start a dialogue with his opponents.
The European Commission and Germany rejected a proposal by Belarus that European Union countries take in some of the asylum seekers currently in its territory. Minsk reportedly requested from the EU to house 2,000 migrants and ease the strain.
In its turn, Belarus is ready to take care of the other 5,000 refugees in its territory, and assist them to return home.
A flight to Iraq had already taken off from Minsk to repatriate about 400 refugees.
Minsk also opened an opportunity to naturalize and employ those willing to stay in Belarus.
Shortly before the plan was announced, the European Commission had said there could be no negotiation with Belarus over the plight of the migrants.
In what could be considered a jab at Warsaw, Belarus restricted oil flows to Europe for unscheduled maintenance.
Poland’s pipeline operator PERN Group said Russia’s Transneft pipeline monopoly had informed it that “oil deliveries to Poland and Germany will be slightly reduced.”
It is possible that the situation has partially eased, but it is likely just a phase, as parties are not near close to agreement.
Belarus also continues to strengthen its border air defense. New batch S-300 air defense systems were spotted moving towards the Polish border.
In any case, this refugee crisis has demonstrated that in practice European liberal democracies have moved away from the principles of tolerance and unconditional commitment to respect for fundamental human rights that they used to promote worldwide. In its turn, the so-called dictatorial regime of Lukashenko has taken all possible measures to alleviate the plight of refugees.