Poland strengthened its border with neighboring Belarus by adding nearly 3,000 soldiers as the country recently reported record-high migration levels, prompting stepped-up security measures, the defense minister said on Tuesday.
“Almost 6,000 soldiers from the 16th, 18th, and 12th divisions are serving on the Polish-Belarusian border,” Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said in a statement on social media.
“The soldiers provide support to the Border Guard by protecting the country’s border and not allowing it to be illegally crossed,” he added.
On Oct. 16, prior to Tuesday’s additional troop deployment, Blaszczak said more than 3,000 Polish soldiers are protecting the border. With the fresh troops, the Polish-Belarusian border will have a significant expansion of military presence as nearly 6,000 troops are now operating in the border region.
“The temporary fence, which we started to build in July, limited its illegal crossing. If it weren’t for the fence and the great cooperation of soldiers and the Border Guard, we would have had a migration crisis comparable to that of 2015,” Blaszczak said.
In late August, shortly after the Taliban terrorist group took control over the Afghan capital, Poland started the construction of an 8.2-foot (2.5-meter) high fence along its 260-mile (418-kilometer) border to halt the flow of illegal immigrants.
Last week, Polish officials announced plans to spend more than $400 million on further improving its border defense by building a solid barrier along the countries’ border with Belarus.
Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the Law and Justice party and the deputy prime minister of Poland, said that the new wall should replace the temporary fence and protective measures now in place.
As of Oct. 17, there had been around a total of 9,600 attempts to illegally cross the border this month alone, the Border Guard said, adding that on Oct. 18, there were 612 attempts to cross the border illegally.
In early September, Poland declared a state of emergency as thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, tried to unlawfully enter the country. The Border Guard also said in a statement in August that illegal border crossings have reached record heights.
The European Commission and Warsaw say the flow of illegal immigrants has been orchestrated by Belarus as a form of hybrid warfare designed to put pressure on the European Union over sanctions it imposed on Minsk, a move the Belarusian regime has denied.
Reuters contributed to this report.