Poland Summons Belarus Ambassador Over 'Unfounded Accusations'
Poland said on Thursday it had summoned the Belarus ambassador to protest at “unfounded accusations” after Belarusian media said President Alexander Lukashenko had accused Warsaw of plotting to seize part of the country if its crisis worsened.
“With regard to the repeated unfounded accusations from Belarus leaders towards Poland, the … Belarus ambassador (was) summoned to the (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) today at 1500,” Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz said on Twitter.
Lukashenko has accused Poland of planning to take over the Grodno region bordering Poland and Lithuania if Belarus falls apart, Belarus’s state news agency Belta reported.
Belta on Thursday quoted Lukashenko as saying he had dispatched some armed forces to the western border with Poland.
“You see these statements saying that if Belarus falls apart, Grodno Oblast will become part of Poland. They are already saying it openly, they are dreaming about it. They will not succeed, I know it for sure,” Belta quoted him as saying.
Lukashenko has also accused the U.S.-led NATO alliance, to which Poland and Lithuania belong, of building up forces near the border with Belarus.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg flatly denied the allegation on Wednesday, saying any attempt by the Belarusian government to use the Western alliance as a scapegoat and rationale for repression of popular protests was “wrong and unjustified.”
Lukashenko has faced more than two weeks of mass protests against his 26-year-old rule since the Aug. 9 election which official results say he won with 80 percent of the vote.
He denies accusations of electoral fraud and says the protests have been orchestrated and funded from abroad.
European Union foreign ministers are considering sanctions against Belarus to pressure Lukashenko to hold new elections. [ nL8N2FT4CB] (Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Matthias Williams Editing by Mark Heinrich)