UK troops are being freshly deployed in Poland to assist in strengthening the border fence at points of entry into the EU along the Belarus-Poland border, at a moment the showdown continues and as Minsk and Moscow are ramping up their rhetoric in condemning Europe's hypocrisy.
Polish defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak made the announcement Friday, saying in a written statement that British military engineers will help repair and fortify border fences which have recently been breached by Middle East migrants on the other side, reportedly with the assistance of Belarusian security forces goading them on.
Poland and the Baltic allies Latvia and Lithuania, which have also declared states of emergencies at their respective borders with Belarus, have all charged the Alexander Lukashenko government with deliberately orchestrating the border provocations which have driven world headlines this week.
There are currently worries that the confrontation between Poland and Belarus could result in armed conflict, given currently both have troops on either side of the border, with thousands of migrants caught in the middle.
UK media reports detail that "The troops are likely from the light cavalry squadron that the UK currently has stationed in Poland as part of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence, which includes soldiers from the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers.
The British troops will also provide reconnaissance support, given Poland has ramped up its monitoring activities of migrant caravan movements on the Belarusian side. Minsk has been further accused of actually flying migrants into Belarus from the Middle East in order to facilitation their passage into the EU. Most appear to be trying to make it to Germany given the ample social benefits provided there. The most contested EU cross appears to be in northeast Poland.
Mariusz Blaszczak tweeted Friday that "reconnaissance has begun before the support of British engineering troops will start. Our soldiers will establish cooperation in strengthening the fence on the Polish-Belarusian border."
On the other side, Russia has deployed paratroopers to Belarus to participate in joint drills. While it's unclear whether they will directly support Belarus at the border, it's at the very least a resounding message to the NATO and the West, at a moment the EU is readying fresh sanctions on Minsk.
The Daily Mail reports, "Belarus said the drill was in response to the 'build-up of military activity' at the Polish border, where 15,000 troops have been stationed to hold back the migrants, while Russia said it was to test the 'combat readiness' of its troops."
For now it appears both sides and their external backers are willing to escalate. Meanwhile, hundreds are still attempting to breach the border into the EU. Poland meanwhile has plans for a large, high-tech border fence, but which hasn't begun to be constructed.