The Migration Crisis in Belarus and the Reaction of Russia

by ANKASAM Ekip
Kenan AĞAZADE

Polish news media claims that the two large groups of migrants broke through the state borders between Belarus and Poland on Tuesday despite a massive military and police presence. European mass media underline also that this crisis is far more than a bilateral issue of two independent states because this issue influences continental security. Most of the migrants were sent back to Belarus. The current Polish government does not support the acceptance of refugees from other states. This policy has especially influenced people with backgrounds from West Asia. Polish political establishment explains this harsh policy with the hardships of the social and economic integration of the refugees.

The current reaction of Poland

Poland considers the arrival of these migrants not as a humanitarian crisis, but as similar to the foreign invasion. It has declared a state of emergency at its border, deployed thousands of military troops, police forces and changed the law to allow summary expulsions, ignoring asylum requests. They have a plan to build a wall. Poland refuses permission for EU observation and humanitarian monitoring around the 3km Borden zone. The Baltic States such as Lithuania and Latvia earlier accepted assistance from the EU in order to deal with crossings from Belarus. Nevertheless, Poland does not accept help from the EU. Locked in conflict over the rule of law with Warsaw demonstrates openly its anti-EU and anti-migrant sentiment. The Polish elite explains their asylum policy with the logic that they are afraid of being punished by voters, which is why no one has stood up for a humane and functioning migration policy in recent years.

The expected reaction of the EU

Poland is a member of the EU and has the responsibility towards Brussels. The EU will most probably recommend Poland to follow the common European values and principles. Brussels states the entire behaviour EU including Poland is neglecting its duty to help people in great danger. The EU will try to do everything in its power to solve this cruel trouble. The EU does not have real power in order to affect the Polish government because the Polish society is conservative and euro sceptical. The polish will not take into consideration the image of the EU. The EU understands fully the difficulty of this situation. It does not want yet another bone of contention with Warsaw. But on the other hand, the passive position and the limited power of the EU will be a great and negative blow against the own image and prestige.

The Position of Russia and Belarus

Belarus was part of the Russian Empire before it became a founding member of the Soviet Union. Most of its East Slavic population speaks Russian and the followers of the Orthodox Church, and it remains an economic and cultural close state for Russians. Thus, Russia is the main protector of Belarus and for that reason; nuclear-capable Russian bombers have flown for a second day near the borders of Belarus as the demonstration of the Russian guarantee.

Russia’s reaction to the issue has been characteristically neutral.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recommended the EU could solve the problem by paying Belarus to keep the migrants inside of Belarus. Certainly, it is not a positive sign for Europe because all things happen quickly and without any doubt, Russia is very much on Belarus’s side. In addition, Belarus has always consolidated opinion and its view reflected the Pro-Russian Position.

As an example, we may provide this statement of Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, on a visit to Moscow, he said that we were looking for mutual support from Russia and blamed the EU for provoking the crisis. In an apparent gesture to Belarus, Russia said it was sending two strategic nuclear bomber planes to patrol its neighbour’s airspace. This action does not represent the element of the threat towards Europe but it is an indicator of our brotherhood with Russia.

Conclusion

Finally, it is a tragedy that the innocent people most of who are from the Middle East and Asia, and who are hoping to save their life through Poland deeper into Europe, has been gathering on the Belarusian side and become part of the turbulent political case. The global authorities should find a compromise and concentrate their attention around the solution of this problem and forget all their political disagreements. We should not forget about the essence of the right to safe human life and it is applicable for all people regardless of their ethnic background and religious affiliation.

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