Poland urges citizens to leave Belarus
Polish citizens in Belarus should leave the country “with available commercial and private means,” the Polish government has warned in guidance for travelers posted to its website on Monday. Warsaw published similar guidance for Poles staying in Russia last month.
The alert comes as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensifies, with Moscow striking infrastructure sites in multiple Ukrainian cities on Monday in response to what it denounced as a terrorist attack by Kiev on the Crimean Bridge, the only structure connecting the peninsula to the Russian mainland.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko earlier on Monday claimed he had been tipped off that Ukraine was plotting a similar attack against his country, suggesting Kiev’s “masters” in the West were putting them up to the provocation. In preparation, he has amassed 15,000 troops near the border with Ukraine, informing “the president of Ukraine and other lunatics” that should they try anything like the bridge attack in Belarus, “the Crimean Bridge will seem like flowers to them.”
Warsaw has insisted that “we are not participants in this war,” declaring “Poland is a safe country” on Monday even as the government began inspecting some 62,000 bomb shelters for combat-readiness. The Eastern European nation has been one of the most vociferous advocates of economic and even military measures against Russia and its ally Belarus. It was one of the first EU countries to stop giving visas to Russian nationals, and President Andrzej Duda last week suggested his country should participate in the US “nuclear sharing” program, in which Washington stations its own nukes on the territory of its NATO allies, outsourcing the risks of nuclear readiness.