By Dmitri Chirciu
MOSCOW (AA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday discussed the migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
In a phone call, Putin and Macron stressed that the crisis must be resolved within the framework of international humanitarian norms, according to a Kremlin statement.
In refusing to accept the migrants trying to cross Belarus’ borders, Poland and the Baltic countries are violating their international obligations to protect immigrant rights, Putin said.
He added that representatives of EU members should consult with Belarus on such issues.
Some 2,000 people are waiting at Belarus’ Bruzgi border crossing into Poland without housing and in poor conditions as the weather grows colder.
Since August, the EU countries bordering Belarus – Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland – have reported a dramatic rise in irregular crossings.
More than 8,000 people have tried to enter the bloc via the Belarusian-EU border in 2021, up sharply from just 150 last year.
According to the EU, Belarus reaches out to potential travelers through seemingly official channels, including diplomatic missions and travel agencies, and lures them to Belarus by offering them visas. They are then allegedly guided to the EU border.
- Ukraine, Karabakh issues
On the tension with Ukraine, Putin urged immediate international negotiations to develop legally fixed guarantees that would prevent any further NATO expansion to the east as well as the deployment of weapons to neighboring states, primarily in Ukraine, that threaten Russia.
For the second time this year, Moscow has recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine's border, prompting concerns of military action in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian officials, Moscow could trigger a large-scale escalation in January.
In 2014, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years.
On the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Putin told Macron about the results of his Nov. 26 meetings in Sochi with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia – the parties in the conflict last fall.
Putin expressed hope that the meeting of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan with representatives of the EU on Wednesday “will be beneficial.”
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, and during the six-week war, Azerbaijan retook several cities and 300 settlements and villages. The conflict ended in November 2020 in a Russia-brokered deal that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had occupied for decades.
In January, the leaders of the three countries agreed to develop economic ties and infrastructure for the benefit of the entire Caucasus region.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar