Germany has deployed hundreds of extra police to the Polish frontier to help deal with a recent influx of migrants crossing from Belarus, and a government official said Berlin is prepared to step up border controls if needed.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper on October 24 that 800 police have already been sent to the region and, “If necessary, I am ready to reinforce this even more.”
At the border, police broke up an armed group of some 50 far-right activists attempting to prevent migrants from entering Germany.
The radical far-right group The Third Way (Der III. Weg) had called for members to gather to take action against migrants seeking to cross the border from Poland.
EU and national officials have accused Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka of orchestrating the “weaponization” of migrants in response to Brussels’ sanctions on Minsk over a brutal crackdown on dissent since a 2020 presidential election that is widely considered to have been rigged.
Michael Kretschmer, head of Germany’s border state of Saxony, blamed Lukashenka as the instigator of the border crisis, saying, “If we allow ourselves to be blackmailed by such a person, then we as the European Union have no chance.”
German authorities have complained of a flood of illegal migrants through the “Belarus route,” estimating that the flow of migrants arriving via Poland and Belarus has spiked to nearly 5,000 illegal entrants in the past three months.
They said most of the undocumented migrants arriving via the “Belarus route” are from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Iran.
Poland has proposed constructing a $410 million wall on its border with Belarus to keep migrants out.
Asked about such a border structure, Seehofer told the newspaper: “It is legitimate for us to protect the external border in such a way that undetected border crossings are prevented.”
Seehofer has proposed to his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Kaminski, that the two countries increase joint patrols along the border. Kaminski offered Poland’s “full support.”
Seehofer has said Germany had no plans to close the border with Poland.