The escalating standoff over the migrants bivouacked in Belarus and blocked from entering Poland and Lithuania spilled into the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, as the council’s Western members accused Belarus of concocting the crisis and Russia dismissed their move as cynical politics.
Britain, Estonia, France, Norway, the United States and an incoming member of the council, Albania, issued a statement at the conclusion of a council meeting, condemning what they called “the orchestrated instrumentalization of human beings whose lives and well-being have been put in danger for political purposes by Belarus.”
They said the objective of Belarus’s authoritarian leader, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, was “destabilizing neighboring countries and the European Union’s external border and diverting attention away from its own increasing human rights violations.”
The statement, read outside the Security Council chambers by Estonia’s ambassador, Sven Jürgenson, described Mr. Lukashenko’s behavior as unacceptable and said it warranted “a strong international reaction and cooperation in order to hold Belarus accountable.”
Thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have traveled recently to Belarus in hopes of reaching the European Union, but have been prevented by Poland and Lithuania, E.U. member countries, from entering. Thousands are camped along the border with Poland.
No action was announced by the Security Council on Thursday, and given the strong alliance between Belarus and Russia — a veto-wielding permanent member of the council — prospects for any punitive steps by the United Nation’s most powerful body seemed remote.
Anticipating the criticism, Russia’s deputy ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, told reporters before the Security Council session began that the European Union’s portrayal of Belarus as the evildoer was an attempt to mask the bloc’s own cruelty in illegally keeping the migrants out.
“The narrative they will be promoting to you is that Belarus is responsible for this crisis, that Belarus is using migrants as a tool of war,” Mr. Polyanskiy said.
“We are very aware of what’s happening on the border,” he said. “It’s very disturbing. There are people who came, legally, to Belarus, and who want to enter the European Union countries. They are not being allowed to cross the border, they are being pushed from the border, they are being prosecuted, they are being beaten.”
Mr. Polyanskiy said the position of the European Union on the migrants was “a total shame and a total violation of any possible international convention.”
Asked if Russia and Belarus were cooperating to bring migrants in Belarus to the European Union’s eastern border, he said, “Absolutely not.”