Macron, Putin agree upon 'need for humanitarian efforts' in Belarus border row
- Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin had a phone call on Monday
- Putin noted "the extremely harsh treatment of refugees by Polish border guards"
- Putin informed Macron about his contacts with the Belarusian President
In a phone call, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin discussed on Monday the need for de-escalating the tensions around the growing migrant pressure on the European Union's borders with Belarus, Marcon's office said.
Although the two leaders have not announced any concrete steps during the almost two-hour talk, they agreed upon the "need for a humanitarian effort for the migrants," according to the Elysee statement, the Associated Press reported. Moscow, according to the EU, has played a part in increasing migrant pressure and may actively assist in alleviating it.
The Kremlin's account of the conversation said Putin informed Macron about his contacts with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and "emphasized the necessity of discussing the problems that had arisen directly between the leaderships of the EU countries and Belarus."
Putin also noted "the extremely harsh treatment of refugees by Polish border guards," according to the Kremlin.
Also Monday, Lukashenko spoke on the phone with Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel for 50 minutes about “the situation with refugees on the Belarusian-Polish, Belarusian-Lithuanian and Belarusian-Latvian borders,” according to Belarusian state news agency Belta.
They discussed “ways and prospects of resolving” the crisis and preventing its escalation, as well as humanitarian aid to the migrants, Belta said.
The calls took place as the EU ratcheted up pressure on Belarus by agreeing to slap sanctions on airlines accused of helping Lukashenko wage a “hybrid attack” against the entire bloc using migrants.
The EU has also requested humanitarian assistance since up to 4,000 migrants are stranded in temporary camps in Belarus due to the frigid weather, while Poland has strengthened its border with 15,000 soldiers, border guards, and police. In the last several weeks, at least 11 migrants have perished.
Belarusian services led a large number of migrants to a border crossing with Poland on Monday, leading them to believe they would be taken by bus to Germany, according to Polish officials. "They have been deceived," Polish police said in a message transmitted across the border to refugees.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian officials said they were seeing a rising number of attempts by migrants to cross its border from Belarus.
With inputs from the Associated Press