Russia fears: Poland and Ukraine could sparker wider conflict
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Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has stated the Polish border with be the “final barrier to [Alexander] Lukashenka’s actions”. He added that “words were not enough” to stop the Belarusian President and that he has been discussing with Latvia and Lithuania whether to launch Article 4 of NATO. Under the article, any ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.
It comes as Mr Lukashenko is facing new sanctions over a growing migrant crisis at the country’s western border with Poland.
EU officials have accused Belarus of provoking the crisis to undermine the bloc’s security, which it denies.
Making matters worse, Mr Lukashenko threatened to cut off gas supplies into the EU via the Yamal-Europe pipeline.
European countries get about a third of their gas supplies from Russia, some via a Russian-owned pipeline running through Belarus.
Mr Putin told Rossiya television on Saturday that he had spoken to his Belarus counterpart twice and hadn’t even had a “hint” of the threat to cut off gas supplies.
He said: “Of course, in theory, Lukashenko as president of a transit country could order our supplies to be cut to Europe. But this would mean a breach of our gas transit contract and I hope this will not happen.
“There’s nothing good in this, and I will, of course, talk to him about this subject. Perhaps he said that in a fit of temper.”
But despite this, fears are already at a fever pitch over Mr Putin using gas as a “geopolitical weapon” against the EU.
And a shocking graph shows exactly why.
According to the latest data, Germany imported almost 50 percent of its supplies from the Kremlin.
Elsewhere, Finland imported 94 percent from Russia, Bulgaria 77 percent and Italy 46 percent.
The three countries that have rung the alarm bells with NATO are also included.
Latvia relied on 93 percent from Russia, while Poland and Lithuania were around 40 percent.
Mr Lukashenko’s comments raise fresh fears amid worsening natural gas shortages and rising prices in Europe.
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Thousands of people, mostly from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, are at the border with Poland, enduring freezing conditions in the hope of crossing into the EU.
On Saturday, Poland accused Belarusian soldiers of trying to cut through the razor-wire border fence so migrants could pass through.
Belarusian authorities say they are supplying them with food and heating.
Belarus is already under EU sanctions following Mr Lukashenko’s disputed re-election last year, which was followed by a violent crackdown on the opposition.
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