Czech government agrees to send troops to Polish-Belarusian border

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A fence on the border between Poland and Belarus can be seen at the Kuznica-Bruzgi checkpoint on the Polish-Belarusian border amid the migrant crisis, in Kuznica, Poland on December 6, 2021. REUTERS / Kacper Pempel

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PRAGUE, December 8 (Reuters) – The Czech government on Wednesday approved the deployment of up to 150 troops to help Poland stop the flow of migrants seeking entry into Belarus, a crisis the European Union has accused Minsk of engineering.

The plan, submitted for parliamentary approval, would make the Czech Republic the third foreign country to send personnel to the Polish-Belarusian border, after NATO members Estonia and Britain.

“The Polish side asked for engineering units because they asked to carry out the tasks of building and repairing border barriers. And they asked for units to monitor the border with Belarus day and night,” Czech Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar said. a press conference.

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He said he expected Parliament to approve the deployment next week and troops to be able to travel to Poland the following week.

They are not said to be directly involved in contacts with people trying to cross the border. The units will include a drone manager, Metnar said.

The Czech Republic is part of the Visegrad group of Central European countries, which also includes Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. The group has taken a strong stance on migration.

Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis has pledged to prevent migrants from entering as part of his October election campaign, while the new incoming government coalition has backed plans to send troops to help Poland.

The number of attempted crossings to Poland by migrants passing through Belarus from the Middle East or Africa has declined in recent days, with Polish border guards reporting 51 attempts on Tuesday, a fraction of the peaks seen in mid-November when up to 501 people tried to cross in a day.

But tensions remain, and Poland accuses Belarusian security services of helping migrants cross the border and provoking Polish troops, for example by throwing firecrackers. Minsk denies it. Read more

Belarus also denies EU accusations that it designed the migrant crisis in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed for human rights violations.

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Reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Alex Richardson and Ed Osmond

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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