Warsaw, Poland – The Czech government announced it would send 150 soldiers to help Poland secure its eastern border with Belarus amid a surge in migrants arrivals.
The joint proposal by the Czech Foreign and Defense Ministries was approved by the outgoing government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis and has yet to be given the greenlight by Parliament.
The incoming government, formed by the ODS-led Spolu coalition and the Pirates/STAN, also expressed their support for the plan, according to the Czech News Agency.
The 150 troops could be deployed to Poland as early as next week and for a period of up to 6 months until July 2022. The mission would cost an estimated 86 million Kc (about €3.4 million).
After Estonia (150 soldiers) and the UK (155 personnel), the Czech Republic would become the third European country to send troops to help Poland reinforce its border with neighbouring Belarus, joining up to 15,000 Polish troops already deployed along the 400-kilometer-long border.
“We will not only protect the Polish border, but our common Schengen area as well,” commented Foreign Affairs Minister Jakub Kulhanek.
In September, the Czech government had already pledged to send up to 50 soldiers to Hungary’s southern border with Serbia.
The exact scope of the mission had yet to be clarified, but they “will not be in direct contact with the migrants”, according to Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar.
He said Czech soldiers would not take part in activities such as pushbacks or detaining migrants and would instead focus on monitoring the frontier and repairing border barriers.
Poland and the Baltic states have faced an unprecedented migration surge at their eastern border with Belarus since the spring, with the crisis intensifying over the past several months. European countries have accused Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the crisis in retaliation to EU sanctions against its regime.
The Polish government has also come under intense scrutiny for its response, with human rights organisation accusing Poland of preventing migrants from legally applying for asylum, thus violating international rules for asylum seekers, and leaving them stranded at the border in conditions that have already led to the death of several migrants.