Ben Wallace slams Russia and Belarus over migrant crisis
Britain will send 100 troops to help Poland build a ‘Trump-style’ wall at the country’s border with Belarus.
The Royal Engineers are being deployed amid a crisis at the border to stop migrants from Iraq and Syria entering Europe.
Last night Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Belarus had been using migrants as ‘political pawns’ by attempting to assist their passage into Poland in a bid to destabilise the country.
The Polish parliament signed off controversial plans in October to build an 18ft border wall which will cost £297million.
It will be equipped with motion sensors, a monitoring system and cover a roughly 125-mile stretch between the countries.
Mr Wallace also vowed the UK will ‘stand shoulder to shoulder’ with Poland and Ukraine amid rising tensions with Russia and Belarus.
Mr Wallace accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and his close ally, Belarus’s authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko, of a ‘deliberate and concerted attempt to destabilise’ Europe.
He made the comments during a visit to a military base in northeast Poland that hosts a NATO battlegroup as he met with Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.
Thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, have been amassing at the Belarus border with Poland for months.
The EU has accused Mr Lukashenko of deliberately encouraging the migrants to breach its borders in retaliation for sanctions the bloc has imposed in response to his repressive rule.
Meanwhile, Downing Street has voiced concern about the build-up of Russian forces on Russia’s border with Ukraine.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today vowed the UK will ‘stand shoulder to shoulder’ with Poland and Ukraine amid rising tensions with Russia and Belarus
Speaking during the visit, Mr Wallace said: ‘Make no mistake, what is happening on the Belarus border is a deliberate and concerted attempt to destabilise not only Poland but some of the other neighbouring countries like Latvia etc to make sure that Europe is weaker in order to further other people’s agendas.
‘The best response to that is that we stand shoulder to shoulder not only as NATO countries but also old friends and partners to send a strong message that we won’t allow this to happen.’
Boris Johnson this week warned Mr Putin against making a ‘tragic mistake’ as tensions grow on the border between Russia and Ukraine.
The Prime Minister, appearing at the Commons Liaison Committee on Wednesday, was asked about the problems between Belarus and Poland and the situation in Ukraine.
The Kremlin has dismissed claims that it is preparing to invade, after the Ukrainian defence ministry reported that around 90,000 Russian troops were massing in the area.
Mr Johnson said the situations in Poland and Ukraine are ‘very different’ because Poland has a NATO security guarantee, meaning that any action against it could trigger a response from the entire alliance. Ukraine does not have the same guarantee.
Mr Wallace accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and his close ally, Belarus’s authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, of a ‘deliberate and concerted attempt to destabilise’ Europe
He made the comments during a visit to a military base in northeast Poland that hosts a NATO battlegroup as he met with Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak
The Kremlin has dismissed claims that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine, after the Ukrainian defence ministry reported that around 90,000 Russian troops were massing near the border
Mr Johnson said there is a need to ‘make sure that everybody understands the cost of a miscalculation on the borders of both Ukraine and Poland would be enormous’.
‘I think it would be a tragic, tragic mistake for the Kremlin to think there was anything to be gained,’ Mr Johnson said.
The UK and Ukraine recently struck a deal which will see warships and missiles sold to the country.
The deal will allow the country’s government to access financing for contracts with UK suppliers to help beef up its naval capabilities.