Poland curbs border traffic as Belarus expels three Polish diplomats

Construction site of a barrier at the border between Poland and Belarus

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland announced more curbs to road traffic with Belarus on Monday, hours after saying Minsk was expelling three Polish diplomats, as relations between the two nations deteriorate.

Citing "state security", Poland said on Feb. 9 it was closing a border crossing into Belarus at Bobrowniki, driving already hostile relations between the two countries to a new low.

Freight traffic for Belarusian vehicles at the Kukuryki-Kozlowicze border crossing will be suspended as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the Polish Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The decision was linked to Minsk curbing traffic for Polish road freight on Belarus' borders with Latvia and Lithuania, the ministry said.

Earlier on Monday, two consuls from Grodno and the go-between of the Polish border guard in Minsk were told to leave Belarus "by the end of the day on Wednesday", spokesman for the Polish Foreign Ministry Lukasz Jasina said.

"We are thinking about a good and proper response to this," he said.

Belarus has called the decision to close the Bobrowniki border crossing irrational and dangerous. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday about the latest moves.

Poland has been an important refuge for opponents of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, and Warsaw has become one of Kyiv's staunchest supporters since Belarus' main ally Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Relations were further strained on Feb. 8 when a Belarusian court sentenced a journalist of Polish origin to eight years in prison in a trial Warsaw said was politically motivated.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Marek Strzelecki; Editing by John Stonestreet, Hugh Lawson and Alison Williams)