Chaos reigns at the Belarusian-Polish border where thousands of Middle Eastern migrants are trying to hack their way through border fences. They are armed with axes, wire-cutters and shovels which they use to destroy the forest, setting up campsites supported by the Belarusian government who have been photographed trucking in additional lumber and supplies.
Most of the migrants responded to social media advertisements on Arab forums. They were flown directly to Minsk from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Cameroon, and Afghanistan before walking toward Poland. Those who were interviewed said that their journey to Europe was organised in whole or part by Belarus with the help of Russia.
This is not a humanitarian crisis, it is manufactured political drama orchestrated by Russia via its henchman, Belarus. The goal is to turn Poland into a migrant freeway, channeling thousands of people a week through the Republic of Poland and into Germany’s welfare state. If these migrants try to re-enter Belarus, they are beaten by guards and pushed back into Poland.
Russia hopes that an influx of migrants will further destabilise the heart of the European Union, weakening Euro powers as Russia continues its expansionist program to ‘annex’ (occupy?) neighbouring countries like Ukraine where it has amassed tanks, warplanes and 90,000 troops within sight of the border.
“We don’t have clarity into Moscow’s intentions, but we do know its playbook,” said US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. “Our concern is that Russia may make the serious mistake of attempting to rehash what it undertook back in 2014.”
After getting away with the annexation of Crimea, the United States’ intelligence about an imminent threat against the Ukraine must be taken seriously. Russia – like China – is ‘getting the gang back together’ with a campaign of conquest in its old territories.
Russia does not want a strong European Union interfering, but instead of challenging the West outright, it prefers to empower neighbouring countries to do it for them. Proxy wars are cheaper and create plausible deniability. They also act like the crumple zone of a vehicle which sacrifices itself to protect the Motherland if political jostling descends into a hot war.
Belarus is the perfect candidate for this job, with President Alexander Lukashenko described as a quasi-Stalinist in bed with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Previous to his political career, he served in the Soviet Army and the Soviet Border Guard. He then became the first President of Belarus after it gained its independence upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Lukashenko openly refers to himself as ‘Europe’s last dictator’, but his presidency is not recognised by the wider European community due to persistent accusations of recent election rigging and human rights violations that include the torture and rape of detainees. He publicly threatened protesters supporting opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich insisting that they would have their necks wrung ‘like a duck’.
The Belarusian-Polish border is also the border for NATO and the European Union, which Poland has a responsibility to defend from invasion – not only for its own security, but for the safety of the Union.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel deserves some of the blame for Poland’s situation. If it were not for her invitation to the third world, Belarus would not be able to lure so many migrants to the border with promises of generous welfare. Germany is the bait that underpins their human trafficking operation.
“Our army, police, and border guard are preventing our border from being forced by a group of 3,000 migrants. It is an action organised directly by the Belarusian regime of Lukashenko. These people want to go to Germany, but they are trying to do it illegally,” said Piotr Müller, spokesman for Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Poland has moved 10,000 troops to the border after declaring a state of emergency while border fences are urgently being upgraded into a proper wall. Lithuania and Latvia face a similar problem as Belarus taunts its neighbours with migrant invasions in an act of revenge for offering amnesty to terrified Belarusian political dissidents and supporting EU sanctions.
The EU is considering extending its sanctions to Russia over its involvement in transporting migrants into Belarus on Aeroflot planes – an idea which Putin called ‘crazy’. Belarus is already serving an EU airspace ban for diverting a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius. A fighter jet escorted the plane to Minsk after Belarusian air traffic control issued a false bomb threat. Upon landing, dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was arrested, detained and had a confession presumably beaten out of him. Heiko Mass, the German Foreign Minister warned Lukashenko that he would face ‘a barrage of sanctions if it [Belarus] did not start releasing political prisoners’ such as Protasevich.
Belarus was unhappy about the sanctions placed on it as punishment for repeated violations of international standards so, in true dictatorial style, it blamed everyone else as the ‘aggressor’ and started up a war using migrants as expendable weapons.
“We stopped drugs and migrants,” said Lukashenko, as part of his general threat to flood Europe with migrants. “Now you will eat them and catch them yourselves.”
Lukashenko knows that migrants aren’t the only card he has to play. The European map is crowded, with oil pipelines running through politically sensitive areas like Belarus, which has threatened to act as gatekeeper on Russia’s behalf. The truth is, if Russia wanted their oil and gas routes into Europe to be secure – they would be – implying that all of Belarus’ posturing is scripted by the Kremlin.
“We are heating Europe, and they are threatening us. If they impose additional sanctions on us … we must respond,” Lukashenko added. “And what if we halt natural gas supplies? Therefore, I would recommend the leadership of Poland, Lithuanians and other empty-headed people to think before speaking.”
European gas prices have risen 500% this year due to market instability caused by politics – a figure expected to worsen when Germany finalises the Nord Stream 2 $11 billion Russian gas pipeline which will ensure Russia’s control of the European gas market.
The European Union’s switch toward ‘green’ energy has left it especially vulnerable. In a 2019 review, 41.1% of the EU’s natural gas came from Russia, 46.7% of its coal, and 26.9% of crude oil. If Australian MPs were smart, they’d sweep in and offer them a safety net against Russian dominance, but seeing as we’d rather fold ourselves into economic oblivion – the EU can do little more than bark at Russia.
It is this reliance on Russian resources that stopped anyone from interfering in the shocking takeover of Crimea and it will be the same reason no one does anything to rescue the Ukraine.
Where does this leave Poland – aside from holding back the human tide?
Poland’s historical significance in the last world war makes it more difficult for Western nations to abandon it to neighbouring hostilities. While Russia sends paratroopers to bolster the Belarusian forces at the border, the United Kingdom has deployed troops to counter Lukashenko’s forces in case a migrant crisis turns into a military invasion.
A British government minister pointed out that the situation was becoming a NATO issue, which would mean entering ‘some very, very, very, very dangerous territory.’
It is a tricky situation, especially with Turkey holding a central role in Europe’s migrant crisis. Not only are they are NATO partner, they have embedded themselves with the Russian military in joint projects and defence contracts. Turkey is aware of Russia’s predatory nature, but President Erdoğan appears prepared to both ‘help’ Europe by blocking some of Belarus’ migrant flights and bolster his military with Russia’s support. It was only last year that Erdoğan threatened to push millions of migrants into Europe if the European Union didn’t offer Turkey assistance in the Syrian conflict – against Russia… China has taken the United States’ place as the third power in the region, creating a power-shift that is sure to have its own bow wave.
No one really knows what will happen if the geopolitical map stops bluffing and starts shooting, but we do know that the West has spent its ruling years growing fat and lazy. While it has armies, the nations behind them are ill-prepared for the logistics of war which begins with self-sufficiency.
Belarus is a warning that Russia is getting ready to wake up. Let us hope it doesn’t rouse at the same time as China.
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Alexandra Marshall (@ellymelly on social media) is The Good Sauce's Editor-At-Large, as well as the host of "Curtain Call", a Good Sauce show exploring the leading personalities in the culture war. She writes on liberty, philosophy and geopolitics. You can find her on Twitter or read her articles over at her blog.
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