The situation on the Belarusian-Polish border – Lukashenko’s goals and Russia’s benefits: “5 questions” with expert Volodymyr Volya

Photo Twitter/Ministry of National Defence of Poland

Armed security forces of Belarus arrive at the Polish-Belarusian border near the Kuznya checkpoint. At the same time, the EU has expanded the criteria for imposing sanctions on the Belarusian leadership in connection with the migration crisis.

What is happening and how high the risk of escalation of the conflict is, – said the expert on international issues Volodymyr Volya in the program “5 questions” on UA TV channel.

Oleh Borisov hosts the program.

– The European Union has expanded the criteria for imposing sanctions on the Belarusian leadership due to the migration crisis. What are the sanctions?

– In this case, the list of personal sanctions is expanded and developed. That is a list of persons involved in the transportation, escort, provision, resettlement of these migrants and their delivery to Belarus. As for companies, a list of all those involved in one way or another in the transportation of migrants from the airport to the territory of Belarus is also being prepared. And from the airport to the Polish-Belarusian border. And, of course, the Minsk airport, to which all these planes arrived from the Middle East, may also be subject to sanctions.

In this case, the list will be considerable. But, in terms of the effectiveness of these sanctions, there are still questions. Because Belarus is already under a lot of sanctions. Many Belarusian officials and non-government officials associated with the government are under sanctions.

This time, I think the sanctions may affect Belarusian business representatives. That is, people who do not belong to the government, to state structures, but who in one way or another took part in this campaign to transport migrants to the Belarusian-Polish border, or, more precisely, to the border between Belarus and the European Union.

– What do you connect this crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border with?

– Legs grow from the head of the head of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. First there was Lithuania. Lithuania was at the forefront of supporting the Belarusian opposition. Then, when Lithuania closed its border with Belarus, they moved to Poland. If we follow this logic, then Ukraine may be next – after Poland and the European Union close this section of the Belarusian-Polish border. Of course, this situation is very advantageous for Russia. They, I think, at least knew what Lukashenko was going to do, but decided to play, because Lukashenko thus diverts some of his attention from Russia. I will not say that radically distracts from the behavior of Russia, but…

Russia uses this whole story in its propaganda campaign to discredit the European Union and the West, that is, to paint an image of the vicious West and inhuman NATO. Because all the staff from the migration camp is accompanied by a leitmotif, they say, look at some evil European Union, and the Belarusian security forces are feeding, watering, guarding and providing medical care. Although these Belarusian security officers were not allowed these foreign citizens into the border control zone.

– In a recent interview with a Russian magazine, Lukashenko said: “I need several divisions in the west, in the south. Let them stand. It is 500 km. Because our polonaise is up to 300 km. I am talking to your President Putin now. I need these 500 km of missile systems here”. Does this mean that Lukashenko intends to start a war because of this migration crisis?

– I think that he is not ready for war, but he can aggravate the situation as much as possible to a certain extent. He plays out this storyline that Belarus is on the verge of an invasion by some forces that want to destabilize Belarus. That is, it is all a propaganda storyline, which Lukashenko has supported since last year. He invents outright nonsense that NATO troops will come to him and demands weapons, even more weapons.

Russia is using this crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border in a military context. Paratroopers were sent there for training. That is, it does not mean that Russia expects a NATO invasion of Belarus or a serious military escalation, even a border one. Why do they do it? In order to show their voters, the citizens of Russia to dig into their heads, they say, look how strong Russia is. We will show now.

In other words, Lukashenko, with his hysteria that he will now be attacked, is a profitable character for the Kremlin, a tool they then use for their propaganda. And they are trying to look like a mediator between Lukashenko and the West in resolving this crisis. That is, roughly speaking, the Kremlin is very active in using Lukashenko, his eccentricity, to play with muscles along the Polish border or elsewhere.

– Is it possible to draw parallels between Russia’s actions in the Donbas and on the Polish-Belarusian border?

– If we talk about the possibility of invasion, the penetration of some groups from the Belarusian territory to the Ukrainian, it cannot be ruled out that there may be saboteurs in the flow of migrants. But I do not see the preconditions for any large-scale destabilization in Ukraine from the fact that some groups – 10-15 people in total – will penetrate.

In addition, I see that the Ukrainian side is taking very adequate measures to strengthen border control, in particular to prevent the penetration of possible sabotage groups or individual saboteurs. As a person who served in Belarus for 1.5 years, in the Gomel region, in the woods, I understand perfectly well what kind of area it is. I think that the measures currently being taken by the Ukrainian side are adequate.

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