President trying to drive Europe to breaking point with refugees, Nato says.

Vladimir Putin is purposefully creating a refugee crisis in order to "overwhelm" and "break" Europe, Nato's military commander in Europe has warned.

General Philip Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and the head of the United States European Command, accused the Russian President and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad of a campaign of bombardment against civilian centres.

"Together, Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponising migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve," Breedlove told the Senate armed services committee. "These indiscriminate weapons used by both Bashar al-Assad, and the non-precision use of weapons by the Russian forces - I can't find any other reason for them other than to cause refugees to be on the move and make them someone else's problem," he said.

Alexander Yakovenko, Russia's ambassador to London, yesterday acknowledged the link, writing on social media that the Syria ceasefire "will help alleviate the migration crisis in the EU".

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The United Nations warned that Greece is on the "cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis", as European leaders stood firm behind choking the Balkan migrant trail used by more than a million people to reach Germany last year.

Macedonia, a major transit country last summer, is now letting through only a few dozen people from Greece a day, a knock-on of Austria's decision to cap asylum claims. Yet 2000 people still land daily on the Greek islands, and within weeks the bottleneck could reach 100,000. Thousands sleep in the open air at stations and in city squares.