Every day the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border continues to worsen. So, on Sunday, November 14, a group of illegal migrants, during another attempt to break through the Polish border, threw stones at Polish police officers. One of the stones hit the policeman's head. His helmet fell off from a serious injury. In another incident, 22 migrants from Iraq were detained, who earlier, as part of a group of 50 people, managed to destroy part of the fence on the border and break into Polish territory. The European Union and the Polish government called the events the most difficult moment since the beginning of the crisis on the border.
And already yesterday the migrants left their camp and crowded at the Bruzgi checkpoint on the highway. According to the estimates of the Polish security officials, there are about 3.5 thousand of them. The border is guarded by the military and police, who drove a water cannon. The Belarusian border service notes that the refugees "emphasize their exclusively peaceful intentions and are ready for any development of the situation, at the head of the column there are women with small children." In the spontaneous camp, where the migrants spent a week, no one was left: from the Polish side, only the smoke from extinguished fires is visible. Polish border guards have already begun using water cannons and noise-and-light grenades to keep the most aggressive migrants out of the barriers that are trying to damage.
In the previous article, I named the main goals pursued by Lukashenko and Putin, artificially creating a migration crisis on the border with Poland.
In fact, Lukashenko personally confirmed my assumptions in his interview with Igor Korotchenko, chief editor of the Russian magazine National Defense . Namely, that in this way he takes revenge on the governments of Poland and the Baltic countries for supporting the mass protests in Minsk a year ago after the falsification of election results in Belarus, as well as the EU as a whole for imposing sanctions against his regime: “You introduced sanctions against me, against Belarusians. You went to a hybrid war against Belarus (media, economics, politics, you have already reached the military, security). And you, scoundrels, madmen, want me to protect you, from migrants as well? Am I not thinking logically? You have arranged it - you will get it. "
In addition, Lukashenko in his interview, as expected, accuses Poland of violating humanitarian law and the brutality of Polish border guards, thereby leveling the differences in the actions of their own law enforcement agencies during the suppression of mass protests a year ago and European ones. To simplify, the message is: "You are Europeans, no better than me."
Here are some of the most illustrative quotes from the interview:
Lukashenko: - ... And those who remain with us, for example, they pushed out there, beat them, among these people there were pregnant women in the eighth and ninth months...
Korotchenko: - Why such cruelty?
Lukashenko: - Are you surprised because you thought that there are human rights and freedoms and there is no cruelty?
Korotchenko: - But they constantly talk to us about this, they teach!
Lukashenko: - Constantly. But in fact they showed their face.
This message, by the way, is already directed not only to European politicians, but mainly to the domestic audience in Belarus. The main task is to justify their own harshness and violation of civil rights among those citizens who, if they did not participate in the protests, then condemned the excessive cruelty of the Belarusian law enforcement agencies when they were suppressed. This is the so-called "silent majority". Thus, Lukashenko is trying to raise the level of his own legitimacy among them and make them come to terms with the inevitable.
Among the main tasks of Lukashenko in instigating the migration crisis, I also forcing the EU leadership to go to direct negotiations with him and thereby gain legitimacy in the West.
This, by the way, was "accidentally" suggested by Russian President Putin in his telephone conversations last week with Acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is no coincidence that Merkel discussed the migration crisis with Putin on the Belarusian-Polish border. First, in this way, she confirmed that it is necessary to solve the problem, as in the situation with the conflict in Ukraine, with the head of the Kremlin. De facto admitting that if it was not Putin himself who created the current situation, then at least he controls what is happening and has influence on Lukashenko.
Secondly, she didn’t dare to speak directly with Lukashenko for a week, as she perfectly understood that in this way she would de facto recognize him as a legitimate president. Alas, even the “iron lady” could not withstand the pressure and yesterday she was the first to call Lukashenko to discuss the crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border that had worsened during this time. And this is also an extremely important point. Indeed, in his interview to the Russian propaganda publication NO, Lukashenko emphasized that he considers the current political elites of the EU to be weak in character, incapable of taking a blow and toughly defending their position and the interests of their states. In general, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and other dictators whom Lukashenko personally knew and respected could not be even compared with them. He called Merkel the only one who can somehow defend his position. As you can see, this "last bastion" fell ...
I am sure Lukashenko will perceive this as weakness and will only increase the pressure and provocations. He has already confirmed that he does not rule out the transition of the conflict on the border to a qualitatively new level of confrontation - the military: “I am afraid that this confrontation at the border due to migrants does not lead to some acute phase. This is the ground for provocations. Any provocation can be done. I already warn my military: carefully, guys, look! " (https://president.gov.by/ru/events/intervyu-glavnomu-redaktoru-rossiyskogo-zhurnala-nacionalnaya-oborona-igoryu-korotchenko).
It is also important to note why this crisis is man-made and how it differs from its analogue in 2015, when a similar mechanism of pressure on the EU leadership was tested by the Kremlin in Syria. In contrast to the current situation, at that time they were really refugees who, in the literal sense of the word, were left with nothing, lost their homes and all property as a result of the massive bombing of Aleppo by Russian aviation.
In Belarus, these are no longer refugees, but migrants who buy themselves expensive air tickets to Minsk and spend a lot of money to pay for the services of guides from Poland to Germany. That is, there is a whole well-functioning network for the transfer of migrants. Lukashenko also spoke about this in plain text in his interview. Naturally, while denying help to migrants by the Belarusian special services in crossing the border with Poland and blaming mafia structures in the West and even in Ukraine for this.
Although the migrants themselves who were interviewed say quite the opposite. Thus, the TV channel "Al-Jazeera" tells about one of the thousands of Middle Eastern refugees who are trying to break into the European Union through the Belarusian-Polish border. Nidal Ibrahim, 37, is a native of Syrian Aleppo. He arrived in Belarus via Turkey, where his wife and children stayed. The last days he lives in the forest, without food, and the only source of water is a swamp. The temperature is already below zero. According to him, he bought a ticket to Minsk for $ 800. Representatives of the Belarusian side promised him that for another $ 500 he would be sent to Poland without any problems (https://www.newsru.co.il/mideast/15nov2021/iraq_202.html).
Thus, since the summer, the Lukashenko regime has already managed to earn millions of dollars on visas for migrants, as well as on air tickets from the Middle East to Minsk. Thus, trying to compensate for the losses from the sanctions against the Belavia airline and the Minsk airport, imposed by the EU after the forced landing of the board of the RyanAir company with Roman Protasevich on board this year. By the way, he also openly stated this in his interview with Korotchenko.
A logical question arises: how will the EU proceed further after the increase in the stakes of Lukashenko and the Kremlin? It is logical that the leaders of the Baltic countries and Poland are most concerned about the situation with the migration crisis. Thus, the leaders of the Baltic states demand that Minsk be held accountable for the use of migrants for political purposes. They called on the European Commission to change the EU laws on migration policy. Part of the refugees from the Middle East who are today at the borders of the European Union from Belarus arrived from Moscow, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday, November 15 following the meeting of the heads of the Baltic states in Vilnius . The participants in the Vilnius meeting condemned the use of migrants by the regime of Lukashenko for political purposes. “We discussed the current hybrid attack by the Belarusian regime and exchanged views on the deteriorating situation on the borders of the European Union with Belarus,” reads their joint statement published on the website of the President of Lithuania.
In turn, the EU Council on November 15 expanded the criteria by which the EU can impose sanctions against Belarus. Now the penalties will affect individuals and legal entities organizing the activities of Lukashenko's regime to facilitate illegal crossing of the external borders of the EU or assist it, the press service noted. This is a necessary preparatory step for the imposition of the sanctions themselves. The next will be the adoption of the fifth package of restrictive measures against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. When exactly it will be accepted is still unknown. EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell said the new package of sanctions will target airlines and travel agencies involved in the movement of migrants.
“This inhuman system of using refugees as an instrument of pressure on the European Union has escalated in recent days. We will increase sanctions against those involved in this trafficking in persons, and we have to say that tough economic sanctions are inevitable, ”said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. According to Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, "Nobody expressed doubts that the sixth package would also be needed." RBK-Ukraine writes about this with reference to the press service of the Polish police.
In addition, the EU leadership is trying to introduce preventive measures and has already achieved some results. Turkish, Qatari, Syrian and some other airlines, under the threat of imposing sanctions, have banned the sale of tickets to residents of some Middle East countries for flights to Minsk. That, of course, will reduce the new influx of migrants to Belarus.
So, for example, according to the decision of the competent authorities of the UAE, from November 14, 2021, citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria will not be accepted for transportation on flights from Dubai to Belarus. In this regard, the Belavia airline is tightening control over the verification of documents when registering passengers for flights from Dubai.
The Iraqi leadership, under pressure from the EU, also agreed to organize the first flight to Minsk in order to pick up its citizens and Belarusians. But only voluntarily. Lukashenko responded by offering to take the migrants to Germany with his own planes.
So in the near future we can expect the introduction of new sanctions against the Lukashenkoregime if the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border stays aggravated. Which, personally, I fully admit and consider this to be the most likely scenario.
At the same time, the Polish leadership openly accuses not only Lukashenko, but also the Kremlin of initiating the migration crisis, calling for the introduction of sanctions against the Russian Federation. Thus, the vice-premier of the Polish government Piotr Glinsky called to exclude Russia and Belarus from a number of international organizations. He also proposed to exclude countries from participating in international sports competitions due to the migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border. This is reported by RBC-Ukraine with reference to the Polska Times. ( https://www.rbc.ua/rus/news/polsha-prizvala-isklyuchit-rossiyu-belarus-1636968955.html ). The Polish politician noted that Moscow and Minsk "do not reckon with anything other than real economic or political pressure." In his opinion, international pressure on Russia and Belarus should be much stronger.
In addition, Warsaw, together with Riga and Vilnius, is already planning to apply Article 4 of the NATO treaty. It provides for the convocation of emergency consultations if there is a threat to the territorial integrity of one of the members of the Alliance. “There is no doubt that this has gone too far. We already know that words alone are not enough to stop the Belarusian regime. We understand that increased sanctions will be required, - said Matuesh Morawiecki, Prime Minister of Poland. ( https://24tv.ua/ru/migracionnyj-krizis-granice-polshi-stanovitsja-novosti-belarus_n1795585 ).
But if you look at the situation more broadly, it becomes obvious that escalating the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border partly serves to divert public attention from much more serious goals and objectives of the Kremlin than just pressure on the EU to speed up the certification of Nord Stream 2, which I wrote about in the previous article.
In fact, now we are witnessing the military takeover of Belarus. And this applies directly to the growing threats to Ukraine of a full-scale military invasion from Belarus. Particularly noteworthy is the statement made in the previously mentioned interview to Lukashenko on the supply of Russian missile systems: “Now I am disturbing your president (Putin), I need our 500-kilometer missile launchers here. Iskander. I need several divisions in the west, in the south. Let them stand. This is 500 kilometers (launch range), because our Polonaise is up to 300 kilometers.”
That is, under the pretext of a military threat and concentration of troops from the NATO member states, Lukashenko called on the Kremlin to place Iskanders, including on the border with Ukraine. And this will require colossal additional resources to strengthen the air defense system, with which, according to military experts, we already have serious problems even in the Donbas and from the Crimea. Thus, the Kremlin is systematically building up its military contingent near our borders, but now on the territory of Belarus, thereby changing the balance in its favor. "Iskandars" are not "Bayraktars”, with all due respect. If this happens (which is quite likely), then it will be an asymmetric response from the Kremlin to the use of shock drones by Ukraine in the Donbas.
In addition, the Western media have been trumpeting for several weeks that Russia is again concentrating its troops on the border with Ukraine and that the risks of a full-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine are now even higher than this spring. According to British media reports, Great Britain is even ready to transfer up to 600 of its paratroopers to the conflict zone in Donbas ( https://www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2021/11/14/7313957/ ), and its leadership considers that a threat of full-scale aggression is extremely high.
Lukashenko, while making such statements, pursues some internal political goals. According to all opinion polls, the majority of Belarusians are categorically against full integration into the Russian Federation up to the loss of all the attributes of national sovereignty. Now, in fact, under the imaginary threat of the concentration of NATO troops near the borders with Belarus, which are forced to respond to threats of breaking through their borders by migrants from the Middle East, there is an actual absorption and re-subordination of the Armed Forces of Belarus to the General Staff of the Russian Federation, as well as the development of joint exercises practically in combat conditions. Russian strategic aviation is already patrolling the Belarusian border. If the situation on the border continues to worsen, which is happening now, then Russia may transfer aircraft, anti-missile defense and special-purpose equipment there. And then it simply will not withdraw, artificially supporting and kindling hotbeds of crisis on the border even if the current one begins to decline.
So, in these conditions, it is imperative for Ukraine to equip its own border as quickly as possible, not only in terms of preparing a possible redirection of the flow of migrants from Belarus to Ukraine, but also in terms of increasing threats of military invasion.
Lukashenko’s statements that the migrants are allegedly being supplied with weapons from Donbas are extremely alarming in this regard. Thus, the self-proclaimed president of Belarus is already voicing the so-called "switchman" in the event of military provocations on the Belarusian-Polish border of migrants with Polish border guards.
Therefore, the Ukrainian leadership should not be engaged in refuting the intelligence data of its Western allies about a possible military invasion of the Russian Federation, but to begin to fully prepare for it. And already not only in Donbas, but also on the border with Belarus, from which Kyiv is a stone's throw away.