The migration crisis on the border of Belarus and the European Union is gaining momentum. Polish border guards are forced to apply tough measures to protect their country from illegal entry of refugees from a number of disadvantaged countries. The EU authorities are furious because they are not ready to turn neighboring Belarus into another “Turkey” or “Libya” with their never-ending flows of refugees. What is happening is called a hybrid war, which Minsk allegedly declared to Brussels in response to the non-recognition of the results of the presidential elections and the imposition of Western sanctions. Some policy they went even further, accusing Moscow of encouraging such activities, and they threaten to impose sanctions against the Russian Aeroflot. But is there really the notorious "hand of the Kremlin" behind the migration crisis?
The question is very interesting, and we will talk in detail about the origins of the current problems between the EU, Belarus and the Russian Federation. But first, let's see what is happening now on the Polish-Belarusian border.
Not one step forward
The problem with illegal migrants began to manifest itself clearly in May 2021, when President Lukashenko announced that Minsk was no longer able to contain this flow from the countries of the Middle East and North Africa to the European Union. Belarus shares borders with Poland and the Baltic States, which are transit territories for refugees to move to Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands and other Western European countries, where they have the opportunity to settle more comfortably. The situation escalated and turned into a real crisis, when thousands of Muslim migrants approached the Polish border at once, but were greeted with hostility.
Warsaw refuses to consider them refugees and prudently refuses to let illegal immigrants into its territory. Those who tried to get across the border were illegally detained and returned back where they came from. Various objects were thrown at the border guards and the servicemen who were attracted to help them, the migrants tried to crush the barriers by force. In response, the Poles were forced to open warning fire in the air over the heads of the violators. Illegals became a camp in the Belarusian forests. The situation is very difficult: winter is approaching, it is already cold, there are pregnant women and young children among the migrants. It is humanly pity for people.
What to do with all this is unclear. It seems that no one is to blame, but all parties are trying to designate others as guilty. The EU accuses Minsk of trying to take revenge on Brussels for not recognizing the results of the scandalous presidential elections in 2020, as well as for the imposed sanctions. An opinion is expressed that President Lukashenko is putting pressure on the European Union by the threat of opening a new "migration gate" on its eastern border, which may lead to a political crisis within a number of European countries. At the same time, they refuse to communicate directly with Alexander Grigorievich, who is not recognized in the EU as the legal head of the Republic of Belarus. Instead, Acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned to Moscow for help in negotiations with Minsk. The oldest and most respected Russian airline Aeroflot in Europe is threatened with sanctions for allegedly participating in the aggravation of the crisis by bringing migrants from disadvantaged countries to Belarus. Some European politicians are hinting that the Kremlin may be behind Batka's back as the main customer of the current problems.
But is it? Who can actually be the main loser from standing on the Polish-Belarusian border?
The roots of today's migration crisis lie in 2017, when Minsk made a decision to simplify the visa regime for citizens of almost 80 countries. According to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus, foreigners can stay on the territory of Belarus for 30 days without a visa. To do this, you must arrive at the checkpoint through the State Border of the Republic of Belarus Minsk National Airport, have a passport, medical insurance and a certain amount of money. To leave Belarus, citizens of Vietnam, Haiti, Lebanon, Gambia, India, Namibia and Samoa were additionally required to have a multiple-entry visa of one of the EU countries or a Schengen visa.
What is important for our history, in addition to citizens of the United States, Canada and European countries, citizens of, for example, Gambia, Namibia, Oman, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran can use the conveniences of a visa-free regime in Minsk. Note that the Syrians are trying to storm the Polish border, primarily the Syrian Kurds, as well as Libyans, Afghans, Yemenis and people from other disadvantaged countries. They arrive in Belarus by Belavia, Turkish and Qatar airlines and FlyDubai. Transit points for migrants are Turkey, Iraq and Syria, where tourism services in Belarus have been actively advertised in recent years. There is evidence that intermediaries ask for their services on moving through Belarus to Europe from 10 to 20 thousand dollars. It is clear that for the majority of refugees this is a one-way road, and they have nowhere to return and have nothing to pay for. This refers to the severity of the issue on the Polish-Belarusian border.
Why did "Old Man" introduce visa-free travel at one time? On the one hand, Minsk hoped to increase the revenues of the tourism sector. On the other hand, then President Lukashenko was still a handshake, acted as a mediator in the settlement in Donbass, negotiated to facilitate the visa regime in the EU for Belarusians. This unilateral step was a clear gesture of "groveling" to the West. This is how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus commented on it:
We hope that the European Union will take note of this decision and some reciprocal steps will follow in the direction of developing contacts between Belarus and the EU.
So there is also a certain share of the responsibility of the European Union in the migration crisis of 2021. Now let's move on to the most important thing. Is there a "hand of the Kremlin" behind what is happening?
Judge for yourself. Changes to the visa regime in Belarus came into force at the beginning of 2018. This immediately caused an extremely negative reaction from Moscow, since Minsk has actually turned into a transit center for travelers from all over the world, including those with bad intentions. Domestic special services fear the penetration of international terrorists into Russia. Immediately after the introduction of the 30-day visa-free regime, the Kremlin established a border zone on the border with Belarus, and all flights from Belarus were transferred to international terminals with appropriate inspection and control. Deliberately offended, President Lukashenko called the Russian-Belarusian border within the Union State "the strangest border in Europe."
It turns out that the Belarusian visa freedom is even more disadvantageous for Moscow than for Brussels or Warsaw. And let's think about what will eventually be the fate of those thousands of illegal migrants? They are unlikely to be deported back if they declare that their lives are in danger in their homeland. If the EU accepts the principle and also does not accept them, then what to do with them? Where will they go? Will "Old Man" push them towards Russia, known for the breadth of its soul? Then our border guards will also be forced to shoot over their heads? Or will Minsk agree to keep them, but ask Moscow for good financial compensation? Don't you think the Kremlin needs the migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border least of all?