Poland border crisis: Belarus soldier 'fires shots to scare migrants'

Belarus soldier ‘fires shots to intimidate migrant group including women and children’: Poland reveals footage as images claim to show injured refugees ‘beaten after they were sent to border’

  • Video taken by Polish border guards reveals Belarus soldiers firing near migrants
  • Footage captures the sound of soldier cocking rifle before gunfire rings out, as two other soldiers appear to kick and hit group before one raises his gun at them 
  • Event took place Tuesday, before migrants made fresh attempt to cross border 
  • Dozens attempted the crossing overnight, Poland said, with around 50 arrested by Wednesday morning with others still being sought

This is the moment Belarusian troops fired gunshots close to a terrified group of migrants at the Polish border, hours before the desperate refugees made fresh attempts to break through barbed wire fences and into the EU.

Video captured by Polish guards shows people, including women and children, lined up along a border fence on the Belarusian side before the sound of a soldier cocking and firing his rifle is heard. 

Amid screams from the migrants, two more soldiers can be seen kicking and hitting them before one drops to his knee and raises his gun at them. A Polish soldier can be heard calling to his squad-mate: ‘Come, we have to step back!’

Poland released the footage to rubbish claims by Belarus that it was Polish soldiers who had fired the shots, as Minsk tries to discredit its rivals in Warsaw as part of a ‘hybrid attack’ on the EU using migrants as a weapon.

Amid a rush of migrant crossings overnight Belarus released footage of what it claimed was four Kurdish migrants beaten bloody by guards – though video seen by MailOnline appears fake and Poland has denounced it as ‘propaganda’.

Polish border guards captured the moment Belarusian troops at the border fired shots near a group of terrified migrants, then kicked and pointed their weapons at them

Thousands of migrants are now camped along the Polish border, with the EU saying they are being forced to attempt illegal crossings by Lukashenko’s regime as part of a ‘hybrid attack’

Poland says it has an ‘obligation’ as an EU member to protect the bloc’s border from ‘attacks’ by Belarus, using migrants as a weapon (pictured, Polish border guards)

Belarus released footage of what it claimed were refugees beaten bloody by border guards, but the footage appears to be fake and Poland has denounced it as ‘propaganda’

In it, the four men can be seen in a campsite – one lying in a tent, another sitting by a campfire, a third crouching in a tent doorway, and a fourth squatting on the floor.

All four men are hiding their faces – possibly to conceal their identities – with injuries only visible on three of them, some of which seemed to be made with prosthetics.

The injuries are also being displayed openly to the camera, with seemingly no serious attempt having been made to bandage them. 

There are now thousands of desperate people camped out along the Polish border, with the EU saying they were lured to Belarus on false promises of passage to Europe then marched to the border and forced to make illegal crossings.

Poland said more than 250 people attempted the crossing between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, with dozens making it. Around 50 were found and arrested near the town of Białowieża early today, with more being sought.

‘It was not a calm night. Indeed, there were many attempts to breach the Polish border,’ Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told broadcaster PR1.

Polish private radio RMF said around 200 people had tried to breach the border on Tuesday afternoon, and a second group of around 60 had tried after midnight.

Blaszczak said all those who tried to cross were detained, and that the force of Polish soldiers stationed at the border had been strengthened to 15,000 from 12,000.

Three EU diplomats told Reuters on late on Tuesday that the bloc was close imposing more sanctions on Belarus over the escalating crisis, targeting around 30 individuals and entities including the Belarusian foreign minister.

Germany’s acting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter on Wednesday the images from the Belarusian border were ‘horrific’.

‘Mr. Lukashenko …unscrupulously exploits people seeking refuge as hostages for his cynical power play… But the European Union cannot be blackmailed.’ he said.

Maas said the EU would not leave anyone in need alone. 

Belarus is already under EU sanctions, levied after Lukashenko hijacked a Ryanair flight over the bloc’s airspace to arrest a journalist who criticised his regime.

The EU has also provided sanctuary to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the exiled Belarusian opposition leader who is widely thought to have beaten Lukashenko in a 2020 ballot that analysts believe was rigged, and voiced support for pro-democracy protesters.

The bloc says Lukashenko is now taking revenge by manufacturing a migrant crisis on its eastern border to try and ‘destabilise’ the alliance.

European leaders say migrants are being flown to Belarus from across the Middle East, Africa and Asia and then forced to try and cross the border.

The crisis has been simmering since spring, when what-was one of the quietest migrant routes into Europe suddenly became one of its busiest, but has escalated this week with the sudden arrival of around 1,000 people at the border on Monday.

There are now thought to be around 2,000 people camped out at the border, who cannot cross into Poland and are blocked from going backwards into Belarus.

They have little food or water and are living out of tents in freezing conditions, with overnight temperatures frequently dropping below zero. 

Lukashenko, with the backing of Moscow, has denied orchestrating the migrant crossings – claiming they are legitimate asylum seekers who should be given access.

He described the EU as ‘b*****ds’ on Tuesday, while accusing Poland of ‘conducting a war’ by moving troops close to the border which he warned could lead to conflict.

‘This is either a training exercise or it’s blackmail,’ he said, before vowing: ‘We will calmly stand up to this.’

There are now thousands of migrants camped out along the Polish border, burning fires to keep warn in freezing conditions with little food or water

Bright lights illuminate the Polish side of the border as migrants camp out on the Belarusian side, burning fires in order to keep warm

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (centre right) has vowed to continue blocking the migrants, saying Poland has an ‘obligation’ as an EU member state to defend the border

Lukashenko issued the fiery statement following a phone call with Putin, during which the pair discussed the crisis.

Belarusian state news agency Belta reported the phone call, saying the two leaders had discussed Polish troop movements at the border and were concerned.

‘A special place in the conversation was taken by the discussion of the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border, as well as the tough actions of the Polish side in relation to civilians,’ Belta said.

‘At the same time, it was emphasised, the fact of regular Polish troops gathering on the border was of particular concern. The heads of state discussed in detail the disturbing facts and trends taking place on the Belarusian-Polish borders.’

Following the call, Mr Putin convened a meeting of Russia’s security council to discuss what the Kremlin called ‘state border policy’.

Belta also said Belarus’s foreign minister Vladimir Makei was travelling to Moscow to discuss the crisis with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.  

Mr Lavrov has previously thrown his weight behind Belarus on the issue, saying the EU should be paying Lukashenko to take the migrants back. 

Lukashenko denies he is waging ‘hybrid warfare’ and has been backed by close ally Vladimir Putin (right), with the two leaders sharing a phone-call about the crisis on Tuesday

Lithuania, Latvia and Poland – the three EU countries which border Belarus – have all complained of migrants being forced to their borders in recent months, but the largest numbers have arrived at Poland’s doorstep near the Kuznica crossing point (above) 

Lithuania has also begun increasing its border defences in anticipation of more migrants being forced across from neighbouring Belarus

Lithuanian troops are pictured at the border guard headquarters in Kapciamiestis, near the border with Belarus, in anticipation of more migrant crossings

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonite (right) speaks with Commander of Lithuanian state border guard service Rustamas Liubajevas (left), at border guard headquarters

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