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What’s the migrant disaster on the Belarus-EU border?


The Story So Far

There has been a sudden surge of migrants, together with ladies and youngsters, on the Belarus-Poland border, inflicting tensions to rise between the 2 international locations. The migrants, estimated to be 2,000-4,000 in quantity, and principally from West Asia, together with Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, have made a number of makes an attempt to cross over into Poland with the goal of in search of asylum in a European Union (EU) nation. According to media reviews, they have been aided of their efforts by Belarusian border guards.


  • A sudden surge of migrants, together with ladies and youngsters, on the Belarus-Poland border, are inflicting tensions between the 2 international locations.
  • Poland and Lithuania, each of which have been on the receiving finish of the migrant surge, allege that the entire disaster was orchestrated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
  • Poland has tightened its border safety, amassing 15,000 troops and making a two-mile-deep buffer zone to forestall unauthorised border crossings.

How did the migrants find yourself on the Polish border?

According to Belarus’s two European neighbours, Poland and Lithuania – each of whom have been on the receiving finish of the migrants surge — the entire disaster was orchestrated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. His victory within the 2020 presidential polls, broadly perceived as fraudulent, triggered nation-wide protests by pro-democracy activists. Lukashenko unleashed a brutal crackdown, going to the extent of getting a Ryanair flight hijacked by his intelligence brokers to detain and jail a dissident journalist. The EU responded to the human rights violations by imposing punitive sanctions on officers and entities linked to the Belarusian regime.

Protesters fleeing repression have been additionally given refuge by Poland, and allowed to hold out anti-Lukashenko propaganda. Poland, due to this fact, views the migrant surge at its borders as Belarus’s retaliation in opposition to the sanctions. It has claimed that Belarus is waging a “hybrid war”, deploying unconventional strategies to use strain on an adversary. Lithuania, too, has accused Belarus of “weaponising migrants” by luring 1000’s of them to Minsk from West Asia after which pushing them into the forests alongside the border with the goal of unleashing chaos within the EU.

In June this 12 months, smarting below the punitive sanctions, Lukashenko had threatened to carry border controls on the motion of migrants, medication and even nuclear supplies. This week’s occasions are thus being seen within the EU as Lukashenko finishing up that menace. Belarus, on its half, has acknowledged that the migrants arrived in Belarus legally, and made their solution to the Polish border on their very own.

How has Poland responded?

Poland is dominated by the right-wing populist Law and Justice occasion (PiS), which is hostile to immigrants. It has tightened its border safety, amassing 15,000 troops and making a two-mile deep buffer zone to forestall unauthorised border crossings. Those who managed to cross over have been pushed again into Belarus by Polish safety forces.

The Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki mentioned in Parliament that the scenario on the border was the impact of Russia’s efforts to destabilise a area it had managed in the course of the Cold War period. At the identical time, the PiS has additionally extracted political mileage from the disaster. The occasion had seen its recognition dip in current months after a troublesome new anti-abortion regulation got here into pressure earlier this 12 months following a court docket ruling. The near-total ban on abortion advocated by the PiS was blamed for the demise of a lady who died resulting from a delay in administering abortion. With the Opposition in search of to pin down the federal government over this concern, the migrant disaster on the border has been a godsend for the PIS. With the centrist Opposition events taking a extra humanitarian strategy in direction of the migrants, the PIS and the state-controlled media have tried to color the Opposition as ‘traitors’ who’re on the identical aspect because the migrants and Lukashenko. From being on the offensive, Polish Opposition leaders – together with these important of the PIS’s anti-immigrant stance – have turned more and more cautious as they search to keep away from the lure of getting projected as being sympathetic to Lukashenko.

What are the geo-political ramifications?

In a response to Poland’s troop build-up alongside its border with Belarus, Russia on Wednesday dispatched two strategic, long-range Tu-22M3 bombers to patrol the border area. This is seen as a sign to the EU that Belarus enjoys the total backing of the Russian navy, and that the surge in Polish troops – the biggest such build-up because the finish of the Cold War — is being seen as a hostile transfer.

Russia has additionally squarely blamed the EU for the migrant disaster, arguing that it was EU’s refusal to just accept asylum-seekers that’s creating the disaster. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly spoken over cellphone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the difficulty. Russia has taken the place that EU ought to take up the matter immediately with Lukashenko.

The Belausian strongman, nevertheless, has struck a defiant observe. Speaking on state tv, he alleged that it was the EU that was waging a “hybrid war” by imposing sanctions in opposition to Belarus. He additionally accused Poland of participating in “provocations” by flying navy helicopters low over the border to scare away migrants.

What subsequent?

With the EU set to impose additional sanctions on Belarus, Poland decided to maintain the migrants out, Belarus unwilling to take measures to help the migrants tenting out within the forests with out meals or water, and winter closing in, the destiny of 1000’s of migrants stays dire.

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