These deeper strategic dimensions show just how complicated the Eastern European Migrant Crisis is.
Eastern Europe’s Migrant Crisis has taken the continent by storm and unexpectedly become its top security concern. Poland accuses Belarus of waging “hybrid warfare” through “Weapons of Mass Migration” as an asymmetrical response to the West’s regime change campaign against President Lukashenko since last year’s elections. The Belarusian leader denies the accusations, as does Russia, which Warsaw also accused of supposedly being involved in its neighbour’s “hybrid warfare” plot.
Tensions dramatically escalated on Monday after an unprecedentedly massive migrant caravan attempted to violently storm the Polish border, leading to claims from each country of the other violating those people’s human rights and engaging in dangerous military provocations. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov laid the blame squarely at the West’s feet for destroying Muslim countries and thus being the ultimate cause behind the migrant waves that periodically emanate from there.
He’s right, but there’s more to it than just that. RT reminded its audience that Lukashenko threatened over the summer to stop protecting the EU from smuggling (implied to also mean illegal immigration). This is a sensible stance from his perspective since there’s no reason for this sanctioned country to continue investing its increasingly limited financial resources in ensuring its neighbour’s security from such transnational non-state threats while they’re literally trying to overthrow its government.
That being the case, Poland isn’t also entirely in the wrong either. Even though it played an important role in the US-led War on Iraq and took part in that country’s subsequent occupation, it nevertheless still has the right to defend its people from “Weapons of Mass Migration”. Regardless of however one feels about any particular government (whether Poland’s, Belarus’, or Russia’s), their people shouldn’t be punished for the foreign policy that their representatives promulgate in their name.
It needs to be explicitly said, though, that the Polish government’s accusations of secret Russian support for Belarus’ alleged weaponization of illegal migration processes are flat-out wrong. The Kremlin actually stands to lose the longer that this Migrant Crisis goes on. That’s because it risks being exploited as the pretext for building up Western military forces along the Belarusian border, which could also lead to the NATO countries carrying out provocations against Russia’s mutual defense ally.
The solution is simple in principle but politically difficult to implement. The West should rescind their sanctions against Belarus in order to enable it to more effectively control the flow of foreigners within its territory, especially those that gather en masse and march towards the Polish border. Right now it’s too challenging for the country to do so while suffering from its COVID- and sanctions-created economic crisis. It’s not going to close itself off to the outside world just to ensure the EU’s security interests.
Doing so would also be politically unacceptable for its leadership in the face of the regime change onslaught that the bloc and its American patron are responsible for. Whatever one’s criticisms of Lukashenko may be, nobody can credibly claim that he’s a pushover. He’s already proven himself resilient to immense pressure over the past year. There’s no reason to expect him to suddenly shift his stance just because of the latest Migrant Crisis.
Regrettably, the West doesn’t have the political pragmatism to resolve this crisis. To the contrary, they only seem interested in exacerbating it since they expect to exploit it for strategic reasons related to justifying a new military build-up along the borders of Russia’s mutual defence ally. Their double standards towards the 2015 Southern European Migrant Crisis and the 2021 Eastern European one are driven by these anti-Russian motivations.
No solution appears to be on the horizon since the West won’t responsibly resolve this crisis, which is why observers can expect that its relations with Russia will continue deteriorating since these concerned countries are likely to give credence to Poland’s false claims that the Kremlin is secretly orchestrating this “hybrid warfare” attack against them. This could immensely complicate the incipient efforts between Russia and the US to reach a “non-aggression pact” for responsibly regulating their rivalry.
In fact, it might even be the case that Poland decided to manipulate this manufactured crisis for the purpose of sabotaging the above-mentioned rapprochement. After all, the Central & Eastern European (CEE) leader feels abandoned by Biden, fears that he’s “selling out” the country’s strategic interests, and is coming under unprecedented EU pressure. By presenting itself as the West’s “shield” against “Russian hybrid warfare”, however, it hopes to remain relevant to them and thus reduce some pressure.
Should that be an accurate assessment of what’s happening, then it suggests that Poland has exploited this initially US-provoked crisis (seeing as how the US led the West’s wars against Muslim countries) in ways that risk undermining the US’ own interests as the Biden Administration is gradually beginning to conceptualize them. In other words, it’s Poland – not Belarus – that’s “gone rogue” by refusing to do what’s needed to bring an end to this crisis despite having the right to also defend itself from invasion.
These deeper strategic dimensions show just how complicated the Eastern European Migrant Crisis is. The US is most directly to blame for destroying Muslim countries, followed by Poland for leading the West’s regime change campaign against Belarus that’s led to sanctions against that country which in turn crippled its ability (both physical and political) to defend the EU from illegal immigration. Unless the sanctions are lifted, the crisis will likely continue and risk ruining the Russian-US rapprochement.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Voice of East.