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Angela Merkel asks for Vladimir Putin’s help as EU border crisis spirals out of control

Putin boasts Russia has ‘surpassed’ US in weapons systems

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Ms Merkel has asked Mr Putin to press Belarus’s Lukashenko to stop the flow of refugees, calling it inhumane and unacceptable. This comes after Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko is thought to have sent more than a thousand refugees to the Polish border, as part of an attack on EU nations.

Images emerged showing a long line of migrants being led towards the border by what appeared to be Belarussian forces.

This was reportedly in response to sanctions imposed by the EU, the US and Britain on Belarus, after the country embarked on a violent political crackdown last year.

Mr Lukashenko has since been accused of using the refugees as pawns in his battle with the nations.

Ms Merkel and Ms Putin held discussions about the border crisis, according to a spokesperson from the German government.

She described the attack as inhumane and an “instrumentalisation of migrants”, according to the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer accused Belarus and Russia of attempting to destabilise the west.

Speaking to German newspaper Bild, he said that EU countries “must stand together, because Lukashenko is using people’s fates with the support of Russian president Vladimir Putin to destabilise the west.”

The Kremlin has previously called on the EU to accept the thousands of refugees attempting to enter the bloc via Belarus, saying that Brussels was “strangling” Belarus with the border closures.

In response to the wave of refugees arriving in Poland, the Polish government said it was “determined” to “defend” Europe.

It sent 12,000 troops to reinforce the 10,000 already stationed at the border.

Mr Seehofer said that the Poles “have reacted correctly so far.”

“We cannot criticise them for securing the EU’s external border with admissible means. The Poles are fulfilling a very important service for the whole of Europe”, he said.

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However, Amnesty International has claimed that Poland’s removal of refugees has so far been illegal.

Images showed polish soldiers pepper-spraying the refugees from behind a barbed-wire barrier as they tried to hack it down with branches and spades.

Small children were also seen being held up by desperate parents who pleaded with the Polish forces to let them through.

A digital investigation carried out by the human rights charity found that the country has breached migrants’ rights.

Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said: “Poland has been cruelly holding this group of people on their border in horrendous conditions for weeks.

“Our analysis shows irrefutably on August 18, their position shifted from Poland to Belarus overnight, which strongly suggests that they were victims of an unlawful pushback.”

In a statement, the charity said: “Under EU and international refugee law, Poland is obliged to ensure an individual assessment of all asylum claims and refrain from unlawful returns, including pushbacks and collective expulsions.

“Amnesty International calls on Poland’s government to ensure access to the territory to those seeking protection, end pushbacks, and urgently provide adequate shelter, food, water and medical care to the group of Afghans stranded at the Poland Belarus border.”

Calling the wave of refugees “an invasion”, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “The Polish government is determined and we will defend the security of our country and the entire EU, respecting our international obligations and bearing in mind, above all, the interests of the state and the safety of Polish soldiers, Border Guard officers and citizens.”

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