Will the EU build border barricade? Eurocrat drops hint at ceremony to mark fall of the Berlin Wall as Belarus row sees Vladimir Putin fly his nuclear bombers in support
- The wall would mark an extraordinary U-turn for senior European Union officials
- They criticised former president Donald Trump for advocating similar policies
- Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko was accused of ‘weaponing migration’
- Russia sent two nuclear-capable bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace today
The EU could build a border wall on the bloc’s frontier with Belarus to keep migrants out, it has emerged.
It would mark an extraordinary U-turn for senior EU officials, who lambasted former US president Donald Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for advocating similar policies.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has been accused of weaponising migration by deliberately flying in would-be refugees from the Middle East and north Africa and sending them across the border into Poland.
The EU could build a border wall on the bloc’s frontier with Belarus to keep migrants out. Pictured: Migrants are seen at a tent camp on the Belarusian-Polish border. According to the Polish Border Guard, several thousand migrants have been approaching the Polish border since November 8, 2021
As tensions escalated, Russia sent two nuclear-capable bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace today. In an astonishing move, European Council president Charles Michel, speaking at a ceremony to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, said that Brussels could help build a border fence to prevent asylum-seekers from entering.
‘We have opened the debate on the EU financing of physical border infrastructure,’ he told a stunned audience today in the German capital, which was divided for nearly three decades. ‘This must be settled rapidly.’
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president, only last month insisted ‘there will be no funding of barbed wire and walls’.
Mr Lukashenko, dubbed Europe’s last dictator, denies orchestrating what Mr Michel called a ‘brutal, hybrid attack’ on the EU.
Warsaw estimates that 4,000 migrants are camped on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland. Russian state media claimed that many want to reach Britain. But Polish officials said most who have already crossed want to claim asylum in Germany or the Netherlands.
Poland’s defence ministry released a video allegedly showing a Belarusian soldier firing a shot into the air to intimidate migrants as more tried to cross at night.
It shows a crowd of migrants screaming after the shot is fired.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to ‘exert his influence on the regime in Minsk’. Belarus is a former Soviet republic.
Pawel Jablonski, a deputy Polish foreign minister, told the Daily Mail that Mr Putin and Mr Lukashenko wanted to ‘destabilise the EU as a whole’. He accused Mr Lukashenko of ‘seeking revenge’ for EU sanctions imposed on 166 individuals tied to the Belarusian regime last year.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) has been accused of weaponising migration by deliberately flying in would-be refugees from the Middle East and north Africa and sending them across the border into Poland
The measures were brought in after Mr Lukashenko’s crackdown on opponents following disputed elections in 2020.
EU ambassadors today agreed to broaden sanctions against Belarus for what Poland said was ‘state terrorism’, to include another 30 individuals and entities. Their assets will be frozen and individuals will be added to a travel blacklist.
Russia took the rare step of dispatching two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace yesterday to show support for its ally.
The UN warned the EU not to ‘enter a race to the bottom’. UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said: ‘These challenges simply do not justify the knee-jerk reaction we have seen in some places – the irresponsible xenophobic discourse, the walls and barbed wire, the violent push-backs that include the beating of refugees and migrants.’