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In the midst of an expanding migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for further EU penalties on Belarus on Wednesday.

Thousands of people are trapped in frigid temperatures at the EU's eastern border, with Warsaw accusing Russia and Belarus of exploiting refugees to jeopardize European security.

What did Germany's Foreign Minister have to say?

Maas said that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko "ruthlessly exploited" refugees and sent them to the border area in a statement.

"We will penalize all those involved in targeted migrant smuggling," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, adding that the EU would push to "extend and tighten (...) the sanctions on the Lukashenko dictatorship."

Any additional measures may target not just the nations that support migrant smuggling, but also the airlines that help them get to Europe.

Belarus is accused by EU authorities of arming migrants against the EU in retribution for prior sanctions imposed on Minsk. Lukashenko has vehemently denied that his administration is behind the migration issue.

Thousands of migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border were "appalling," according to Maas.

Maas' comments follow German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's statement in the Bild tabloid on Tuesday that the EU must do more to assist Poland safeguard its border. Migrants were not allowed to enter Poland.

So far, how has the EU reacted?

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called for "the ratification of prolonged sanctions" against Belarus on Monday.

Four sets of sanctions against 166 persons and 15 businesses associated to the Lukashenko government were previously authorized by the EU.

Since Belarus hijacked a Ryanair airplane over Belarusian territory in May, tensions between the EU and Belarus have been high.

Last year's presidential election in Belarus, which Lukashenko won by a landslide against opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was likewise denounced by the EU as neither free nor fair.

Written By: Olivium's Staff

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