A former minister in Aleksander Lukashenko’s regime who’s now living in exile in Poland has claimed that the Belarusian government has trained and armed Afghan and Iraqis with combat experience to conduct armed attacks against Poland.
While speaking with the EU Observer last week, Pavel Latushko, a man who served as the Minister of Culture under Lukashenko before turning against the regime last year following the country’s disputed presidential election, said his former boss planned to destabilize European Union by engineering a humanitarian crisis along the Polish-Belarusian border.
“The migration crisis is being used by Lukashenko to insert into EU territory people who have [military] experience and who additionally undertook training on Belarusian territory to realize terrorist acts,” Latushko began.
“Iraqi citizens were trained [in Belarus], now they are training Afghans from the territory of Tajikistan, who have combat experience. Of course, it’s not dozens of people being trained, it’s units of individuals. … They’re preparing clashes on the Belarus-EU border with the use of weapons.”
In a tweet published following the interview, Latushko, who at one time was Belarus’s ambassador to Poland and France, wrote: “According to reliable information. On the base of special forces in Opsa (a village in Bélarus), 2 groups from Iraq & Afghanistan with combat experience have been trained. … Captured weapons from Afghanistan have already been delivered to Belarus by two IL-76 military aviation planes in early November.”
Latushko, thus far, has refrained from naming sources and hasn’t provided any physical evidence to support his shocking claims, telling the EU Observer that those who had provided the sensitive intelligence to him risked the death penalty for doing so. Despite this, however, Latushko said that his sources are “high-up in Belarusian intelligence services”.
Days ago, amid talk of a fresh round of sanctions imposed on Belarus by the European Union, Lukashenko cut off gas supplies to Europe, saying: “If they impose additional sanctions on us … we must respond.”
“We are heating Europe, and they are threatening us,” he said, referring to a Russian gas pipeline that passes through Belarus on its way to the 27-member bloc.
“And what if we halt natural gas supplies? Therefore, I would recommend the leadership of Poland, Lithuanians, and other empty-headed people to think before speaking.”
If enacted, sanctions—which could be put into place as soon as Monday—will reportedly target some 30 individuals and groups who’re responsible for facilitating illegal migration or human rights violations within Belarus.