Predictions about the direction of the crisis on Poland’s border with Belarus are pouring in. All of them are broadly correct, but it would have been far better if someone had considered the possible responses of Minsk and the Kremlin before attacking the Belarusian “chairman”, Mečislovas Laurinkus writes in lrytas.lt.
But Russia was not interested in linking “migration” to military manoeuvres, let alone to any accident, so the flow of illegals was temporarily halted.
Lithuania, for its part, proclaimed this as a victory for its policy of reversal. In reality, Lithuania’s border protection decisions have paid off. However, even though he accepted the temporary break, Lukashenko did not abandon his plan of revenge for his humiliation as head of state against Poland and Lithuania, which hosted the “real President”. Flights from the Middle East by planes carrying migrants have even increased. Naturally, it was not to settle them in the streets or shelters of Minsk.
At first, it seemed that those who were determined to migrate to Lithuania would change their minds when they saw the less-than-comfortable conditions in the photos sent to them and would no longer believe the lures of the Belarusian KGB about an easy route to Germany via Lithuania and Poland. And why has Germany become a fairy-tale country for them? It is certainly not because Lukashenko’s literary club is telling that fairy-tale. It is not only in the Middle East that Germany is promoting itself as a second Eldorado for the sake of cheap labour. Minsk only took advantage of this fairy tale.
Frankly, neither Germany nor other Western countries are interested in stopping the flow of labour to them. The dream of MEP Kasčiūnas that empty planes would fly from the Middle East to pick up refugees who are tired of the onslaught will remain a dream. The EU, led by the big powers, will never abandon its economically beneficial emigration policy and will always react to unexpected barriers.
It was not without reason that during the great emigration wave six years ago, Merkel said: no problem, we can manage. And now, a month before the end of her tenure as the leader of the EU’s strongest country, the chancellor called Putin to calm Lukashenko down so as not to increase tensions on the Polish border. We will soon see how Putin, for whom the launch of Nord Stream 2 while Merkel is still in power is far more important than Lukashenko’s revenge on Poland and Lithuania, will react, but it cannot be ruled out that the Minsk regime’s revs will slow down.
The Kremlin is killing two birds with one stone: after Merkel’s call, it has already become an entity without which complex problems cannot be solved, and with the start of EU sanctions on Belarus, it is finally incorporating it into the empire it is rebuilding.
It seems to me that neither the EU nor the US expected such a rapid march of the Belarusian regime towards Russia.
The signing of 28 integration programmes in a matter of weeks and the renewal of the common military doctrine, which President Nausėda quite aptly described as a serious signal to NATO.
However, what will happen to the accumulation of migrants on the Polish and Lithuanian borders? The European Commission has leaked to the media concerns about the border protection laws adopted in these countries, which justify a policy of reversal. Prime Minister Šimonytė and Interior Minister Bilotaitė were quick to reassure that there are no specific instructions from the EU yet. I think we will not have to wait long. I guess that Lithuania, which is keen on avoiding any clashes with EU law, will have to shorten the duration of the state of emergency and let some illegals in.
It will be much more difficult in Poland. I think a mistake has already been made in not allowing civil organisations to reach the border. Information has been released about the death of a 14-year-old illegal. It is easily predictable that human rights organisations will start to cry foul. They are active in Warsaw. The political divisions in Poland are several times greater than in Lithuania. If the Polish authorities decide to allow the border to be breached, they will be confronted by nationalists.
But a tent city in a neutral zone will not last more than two weeks with the cold weather approaching. A humanitarian crisis is inevitable.
The whole world will be watching the situation. The optimal solution for Poland is to allow the illegals in on a differentiated basis and to demand the EU for help in sustaining them.
The question that keeps coming back is: could this have been avoided? In a radio programme, D. Gaižauskas, a member of the Seimas, bluntly blamed the situation on the Lithuanian border with Belarus on the foreign policy of the ruling bloc towards Lukashenko.
In fact, Lithuania’s foreign policy has been supported by all parliamentary parties for many years, regardless of whether they are in power or in the opposition. The criticism has been and continues to be made mostly by anonymous commentators.
In my view, Lithuania’s assessments and decisions regarding Lukashenko are correct, but what the response will have not been explored. In Poland, it is repeated from official platforms that Lukashenko is a “nobody” and that everything is organised by the Kremlin. This is partly true.
But I would not underestimate Lukashenko either. He is a hardy political animal. In his vengeance for being humiliated, he might be on par even with V. Putin.
Analysts believe that Lukashenko is trying to force the EU to negotiate with him and perhaps even to lift sanctions by means of a border crisis. I think that the dictator (I do not know if he is the last one) is clearly aware that no one will talk to him or negotiate with him. But he will slam the door before he leaves. He is threatening to shut off gas to Europe in response to the sanctions. That is what he will do. And it does not matter whether he shoots himself in the foot or not.