Turkey curbs flights to Belarus to ease migrant crisis
Polish soldiers and police watch migrants at the Poland/Belarus border near Kuznica, Poland
Turkey banned Syrian, Yemeni, and Iraqi citizens from flights to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Friday which closed one of the main routes into the region for migrants. There are thousands of Middle Eastern migrants sheltering in freezing conditions on the border between Belarus and EU states Poland and Lithuania, which both refuse to allow entry. The European Union accuses Belarus of intentionally creating the crisis by distributing visas in the Middle East, flying in migrants, and pushing them to illegally cross the border into the EU. Belarus denies this but says that it cannot help in resolving the issue unless the EU eases sanctions put in place following President Alexander Lukashenko's violent crackdown on protests in 2020. Lukashenko has also threatened to cut off Russian gas supplied to Europe through Belarusian territory, though Russia has said that it was not consulted on this and that it will fulfill its delivery contracts. Despite this, Russia continues to show support for Belarus and is holding joint military drills with the country. Ukraine announced on Friday that it is sending border guards and national guard officers to Poland to share intelligence on dealing with the migrant crisis.