The European Union accuses Belarus of creating the crisis as part of a “hybrid attack” on the bloc – distributing Belarusian visas in the Middle East, flying in the migrants and encouraging them to try to cross the border illegally. Brussels may impose new sanctions on Belarus and airlines it blames for ferrying the migrants, as soon as Monday. read more
Lukashenko, a close ally of Russia, threatened this week to cut off Russian gas supplies to Europe through pipelines across Belarusian territory. On Friday, the Kremlin appeared to distance itself from that threat, saying it was not consulted in advance of Lukashenko’s remarks and that it would fulfill its gas delivery contracts. read more
European officials have repeatedly said their best hope of resolving the crisis at the frontier is to stop would-be migrants in the Middle East from boarding flights for Belarus in the first place.
Turkey has denied playing a direct role by allowing its territory to be used to ferry in migrants. But Minsk airport’s website listed six flights arriving from Istanbul on Friday, the most from any city outside the former Soviet Union.
Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw, Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara, Dmitry Antonov and Andrew Osborn in Moscow Writing by Jan Lopatka Editing by Peter Graff.