The regime of Alexander Lukashenko wants to put pressure on the European Union through Poland and does so by moving thousands of migrants to the border. Belarus has this way of responding to the sanctions issued by Brussels against what is considered “the last dictator of Europe”. The confrontation is not only between Minsk and Warsaw, but at the level of the entire Union, since the Polish border is a community border and in the absence of a common migration policy the response has to be coordinated at the national level.
“It is an unprecedented move, and Poland should resort to Frontex because it is a tool that is there for situations like this,” say EU sources consulted by 20minutos. Brussels precisely warns Warsaw that this is the most effective way to control the situation, even despite the delicate situation that the agency is going through. In any case, it will not be able to cooperate if the Member State does not ask for it. In this context, the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has assured that there will be a “response” because the border “is sacred”.
Why is the Lukashenko regime maneuvering in this way? Because it is his way of putting pressure on the EU in the face of the sanctions approved by the member states against members of his government, which leave the country in a vulnerable situation. To play down the issue, the Belarusian president has assured that the migrants “are not a threat”. On the other hand, both his opponents and officials of the European institutions expressed that it is a “hybrid threat” and that it is “intolerable” that the regime “uses these people as political weapons”, since they arrive at the border escorted by the Belarusian police forces.
And there are figures. Polish authorities estimate that more than 30,000 people have attempted to cross the border illegally since the beginning of the year, according to the PAP news agency. The Polish government has stepped up surveillance in the area, for which it decreed a state of emergency in the adjacent regions with Belarus at the beginning of September. For the time being, there are no plans to use Frontex to reinforce the presence of controls in the area.
Not only Poland is at the mercy of Lukashenko’s decisions, but Latvia and Lithuania have also taken steps to tighten controls on their borders. This makes three EU member states in check because of the Belarusian regime’s moves. Minsk, on the other hand, defines the migrants as “refugees” who want to apply for asylum and who are grouped together only to avoid “forced expulsion” from Poland.
Russia’s role with regard to Minsk must also be taken into account, bearing in mind that Putin is Lukashenko’s natural ally. The Kremlin and Belarus have prolonged the presence of Russian military on the territory of the former Soviet republic, which shares a border with several NATO member countries, for 25 years.
Under the protocol signed by the two governments, the presence of the Russian Navy’s Vileika communications node and the Volga radar station, which is part of Russia’s missile attack warning and prevention system, is extended for a quarter of a century. Vileika ensures communication with Russian atomic submarines in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as carrying out electronic espionage activities.
Meanwhile, the range of the Volga station, which can detect ballistic missiles and other aerospace objects, is Western Europe and the patrol areas of NATO submarines in the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea. Both military facilities have been operating since 1995, a year after the current Belarusian leader came to power.