A serious border situation has developed on NATO’s eastern flank. The dictator of Belarus, Alexader “Daddy” Lukashenko, with the backing of the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has triggered an immigration crisis.
Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland have introduced state of emergency to stem the wave of illegal entrants into the European Union. They introduced appropriate legislation to protect themselves from the unwanted guests. They are also building border fences.
What’s going on?
Imagine if Venezuela shared a border with the United States. It would endeavor to manipulate the migrant situation to a greater extent than Mexico does.
In a dictatorship practically all options are on the table; Belarus is one.
A year ago, massive demonstrations enveloped Belarus. The people demanded freedom. Lukashenko’s dictatorship was under siege.
“Daddy” almost caved. But then he cracked down hard with Moscow’s help.
His security forces killed, beat, kidnapped, and imprisoned the opponents of the dictatorship. Thousands fled into exile.
Predictably, Lukashenko blamed the United States and Poland for the failed attempt to unseat him. Without any doubt his adversaries enjoyed their support as well as of Lithuania, Latvia, and even the European Union.
So now, according to “Daddy,” it is payback time. Thus, he has furiously implemented a multi-pronged policy of retaliation.
At home, Minsk continues to crack down on dissidents.
No more massive street protests.
Independent journalists are a particular target, in particular on-line ones. Community organizers got hit hard, too, including among the Polish minority. Several prominent leaders linger in jail; a few have been expelled to Poland.
Internationally, Lukashenko has moved even closer to Putin. Minsk has allowed additional Russian troops in.
Belarus also held massive military maneuvers jointly with Russia this past summer.
The allies practiced assaulting their NATO neighbors and Ukraine. Petty border provocations persists, e.g., throwing stones at Polish border guard outposts.
Meanwhile, the relationship between Minsk and the West has turned even more sour. Both the US and the EU have expanded their sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.
The dictatorship retaliated in kind. For example, it ordered, first, less prominent display and, then, partial removal of Polish food products from Belarusian supermarkets.
But the most important tool to punish the neighboring democracies is Lukashenko’s ingenious immigration policy. Hitherto, he guarded his western border jealously with very few opportunities to transit to the EU for the Third World travelers.
It is not the case anymore. “Daddy” has resolved to inundate his EU neighbors with illegal aliens. He wants to destabilize Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland by engineering an artificial immigration crisis.
He aims to foment internal dissent by encouraging open borders partisans and woke revolutionaries to lash out their own governments for protecting national borders. He wishes to embarrass Vilnius, Riga, and Warsaw before the court of world public opinion as callous and cruel to non-Europeans.
We know how the illegal immigration machine works. Belarus informally encourages the wretched of the earth to transit into the EU through its jurisdiction. Barkers and coyotes in Iraq and Syria wood would be migrants to fly to Minsk (usually via Lebanon). They charge about $5,000.00 per person.
Upon landing, the migrants are given a proper welcome and ferried to the western border under the KGB secret police care. There the gloves come off.
The Belarusian border guards shove them unceremoniously into the no man’s land, where they have been camping for months. They demand to be sent to Germany.
Since May, Poland alone has experienced over 6,000 attempts to breach her border; tiny Lithuania and Latvia perhaps half as many. A few migrants died of exposer roaming the marshes and forests.
In Poland, a media circus has ensued. The narrative blames the government for refusing entry to the trespassers. Even much of the Catholic episcopate backs the migrants out of Christian compassion. Liberal opposition, usually anti-Christian, chimes in with similar arguments.
They are indifferent to reality. First, they ignore Lukashenko’s role in it. Second, they sneer at the fact that 67% of Poles oppose letting the illegals in. Third, they dismiss any threats to national security stemming from the migrants.
However, out of 1,000 trespassers apprehended, about 10% were allegedly found to have Islamist snuff porn (beheadings) on their phones. At least one carried contact information of terrorists in the EU.
Americans can relate.
However, at least Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland attempt to protect their borders.
The US does not. And that’s a crying shame.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of statecraft in Washington D.C.; expert on East-Central Europe's Three Seas region; author, among others, of "Intermarium: The Land Between The Baltic and Black Seas." Read Marek Jan Chodakiewicz's Reports — More Here.
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