Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said he could cut off Europe from the gas connection supplied through his country if the European Union sanctions him.
“We are heating Europe, they are still threatening us that they will close the border,” Lukashenko said according to state news agency Belta. “And if we shut off natural gas there? Therefore, I would recommend that the Polish leadership, Lithuanians and other headless people think before speaking.”
Blocking the Russian-supplied gas could be damaging to the European market, which has recorded record-high prices of late.
“The EU has paved the way for new sanctions against Belarus as early as next week,” noted Reuters.
Lukashenko has denied the EU’s accusations that he induced the Middle Eastern, Afghanistan, and African migrants to come to Minsk and then directed them to the Polish border.
“This regime is seeking to destabilize the European Union by encouraging migrant trafficking,” France’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Nov. 9, denouncing Belarus’s actions.
The EU sanctioned Lukashnko for violating human rights after allegations that his government detained and tortured opposition figures following the Belarusian election.
“One new sanction under discussion would hit airlines reportedly ferrying migrants from the Middle East to Minsk, including Belarus state airline Belavia. It was banned from EU airspace and airports after Minsk forced a Ryanair-owned flight to land in Minsk last May, allowing police to arrest a Belarusian dissident blogger on board,” per The Irish Times.
As thousands of migrants continue to gather on the Belarusian side of the border, thousands of Polish nationals marched in Warsaw to honor their nation’s Independence Day.
One banner at the march read, “We Thank the Defenders of Poland’s Borders.”
According to The Washington Post, “Warsaw’s liberal mayor and courts had banned the march, which celebrates Poland’s statehood, but right-wing authorities in the national government overrode the order and gave the gathering the status of a state ceremony.”