Polish president says 'no military threat' at border with Belarus

Poland's President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday that there was "no military threat" at his country's eastern border with Belarus. 

Duda added that his country's civilian police and border guards were securing the European Union (EU)'s border from "illegal migration." He also said that Poland's military presence was in a back-up support system, according to The Associated Press.  

The president's remarks come as thousands of migrants have attempted to enter the EU through Poland's border with Belarus. Many of the migrants came from the Middle East, and most were attempting to enter Europe to escape conflict or despair in their home countries. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The West has accused Belarus' authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko of using the migrants to punish the EU in response to sanctions the bloc imposed on his regime. Belarus, however, denies these accusations, per the AP.

An official said on Wednesday that migrants who camped out on the Belarusian side of the border were leaving via bus, marking a possible easing of the crisis, the AP reported.

But on Tuesday, tensions were heightened as Polish border troops fired a water cannon at migrants across the border in Belarus. The migrants, who endured freezing temperatures, allegedly had thrown rocks at the troops.

"Attention, attention, if you don't follow orders, force will be used against you," a loudspeaker message said at the time. 

Meanwhile, last week, thousands of people marched in Warsaw for an annual Independence Day event that right-wing organizers said was for "protectors of the border."

People carried Polish and nationalist flags and chanted sayings like "Viva, viva border guard" at the event, which took place amid the ongoing migrant crisis at the border.