The presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, discussed the migration crisis on Belarus's borders with the European Union (EU), the Kremlin said today.
"The presidents (...) exchanged views on the situation with refugees on the Belarusian-Polish and Belarusian-Lithuanian borders" in a telephone conversation on Tuesday, the Russian presidency said.
A column of several thousand migrants, mostly Kurds from Syria and Iraq, made their way along a motorway to a border crossing with Poland in the Grodno region on Monday morning.
According to media reports, the migrants were apparently escorted by Belarusian security forces, who maintain that the refugees are legally on their territory.
After unsuccessfully trying to cross the barbed wire erected by Polish border guards, the refugees set up tents and spent the night on the edge of a nearby forest.
The Polish government has stepped up security at the border for fear of an escalation of violence and possible provocations from the Belarusian side.
The EU accuses the Lukashenko regime of waging a 'hybrid war' for months that has seen thousands of irregular migrants, mostly from Iraq, enter the EU through Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.
The Kremlin urged all sides to behave "responsibly to avoid escalation", while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blamed the West for the crisis on the Belarus-Poland border, where several hundred migrants from the Middle East have gathered.
In his view, the root of the problem is the policy that NATO and EU countries have pursued in relation to the Middle East and North Africa, and the attempt to impose their own interpretation of democratic values.