Russia reacts to EU boasts about blocking entry of refugees
A recent declaration by the EU’s top diplomat, hailing the prevention of waves of Middle Eastern migrants crossing into member states from Belarus as the bloc’s “main success” of the year, has come under fire from Moscow.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the remark made by Brussels’ high representative, Josep Borrell. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote: “How deplorable then are the affairs of European diplomacy. My condolences.”
At a press conference, the former Spanish Foreign Minister praised the EU for its “major success” in stopping the flow of would-be asylum seekers from troubled nations, such as Iraq and Syria, from entering Poland, Lithuania and Latvia from the former Soviet republic.
According to him, the country’s embattled leader Alexander Lukashenko “failed to achieve his goals” and is now in “trouble.” The EU has repeatedly accused Minsk of laying on flights to wage a “hybrid war” against the bloc, which the Belarusian strongman has denied, arguing that his government is no longer able to prevent surges of people attempting to cross over due to the effect of sanctions from Brussels.
In an interview last month, Lukashenko acknowledged it was possible that some of his officials were helping would-be asylum seekers cross over into Poland illegally, but insisted that this was not worth investigating.
Earlier in November, the European Council announced that it was widening the embargoes placed on Minsk in light of the humanitarian crisis on its borders. Under the decision, the bloc “will now be able to target individuals and entities organizing or contributing to activities by the Lukashenko regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU’s external borders.”
Brussels introduced a range of restrictive measures against Belarus after Lukashenko declared a landslide victory in last year’s presidential race, in what the bloc has dubbed a “fraudulent vote.” The EU does not recognize the results of the elections and has condemned them as neither free nor fair.