Putin faces pressure over Belarus border crisis and Ukraine troop buildup
In the freezing forests and swamplands of the Poland-Belarus border, unrest flared Tuesday after Polish police fired tear gas and water cannons at some of the thousands of migrants stranded there.
They say Belarus, Putin’s only ally in Europe, is deliberately pushing Middle East migrants toward the border with Poland on the false promise of easy access into the European Union.
Russia and Ukraine have been locked in conflict since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting separatists in the country’s east. That war has rumbled on ever since, costing some 14,000 lives despite a series of shaky ceasefires.
Some experts believe Putin is attempting to use these threats to gain extra leverage in the stalled Ukraine peace talks — and to warn the West that backing Ukraine comes with a cost.