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PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech government approved a plan Wednesday to deploy 150 service members in Poland to help guard the border with Belarus.

Defense Minister Lubomir Metnar said they will have a mandate to stay in Poland for 180 days.

Both houses of Czech Parliament still have to approve the deployment. That is expected to happen by the end of next week. The Czechs would join the similar numbers of troops deployed in Poland by Britain and Estonia.

Poland’s government and the European Union have accused authorities in Belarus of directing thousands of migrants and refugees from the Middle East to its border and using them as pawns, tricking them into trying to enter Poland, Lithuania and Latvia to destabilize the entire 27-nation EU.

“The European Union cannot tolerate that,” Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek said, adding that more sanctions against Belarus can’t be ruled out.

Last week, the EU imposed further sanctions against Belarus, aiming at those accused of participating in a “hybrid attack” on the bloc using migrants. The United States, Britain and Canada slapped simultaneous sanctions Thursday on officials, organizations and companies in Belarus.


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