Belarus faces the European Union
Thousands of migrants crowd the Belarusian-Polish border in President Aleksandr Lukashenko's attempt to beat the pulse of Europe.
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In the last year, migration to the United States has broken all records. The Customs and Border Protection Service has detained more than 1.7 million people at the border with Mexico.
But the U.S. is not the only country facing a migration crisis. The European Union has increased tension with Belarus, a faithful ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the arrival of hundreds of migrants to the border of Poland.
The Polish Border Guard has registered more than 30,000 attempts to cross the valley that separates Poland, an EU Member State, from Belarus, known as the last dictatorship in Europe. Brussels accuses Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s regime of organizing illegal human trafficking to pressure the EU after it imposed economic sanctions on it for its systematic violation of human rights. Elections were held in August 2020, but Brussels considered them fraudulent and didn’t recognize the results.
The route does not contain migrants from Belarus or any other eastern European country, but from the Middle East. Most are Kurds fleeing Syria and Iraq. According to the Polish authorities, it is agents of the Lukashenko regime who guide them to the border, heavily-armed and accompanied by dogs. Hundreds of people have gathered in front of the barbed wire, pitched tents, and set up bonfires to keep warm from the very low temperatures.
The Polish government has deployed up to 15,000 military personnel to the area and declared a state of emergency, which means that NGOs cannot access the border to provide food or medical care to migrants. When someone approaches the border, the individual's mobile phone receives a text message: “The Polish border is closed. The Belarusian authorities lied to you. Go back to Minsk!” Despite the attempted deterrence, the area is full of forests through which roads and police checkpoints zigzag, and migrants continue to search for a gap to make their way to their ideal destination of Europe.
The Belarusian regime is taking advantage of the desperate situation of thousands of migrants coming from the Middle East to sell them entry to the European Union, with which it has a physical border. The country is offering travel by plane, avoiding the dangerous routes on foot, or by boat through the Mediterranean. The European Commission has already warned that it is studying sanctions even for airlines that are facilitating the routes on which people are smuggled.
Among the suspected airlines is the Russian state airline, Aeroflot. It's an idea the Kremlin has called “madness.” In addition, sanctions against the Lukashenko regime will be included. Russia has denied any involvement in the migration conflict, but two weeks ago, it sent two bombers to support Belarus. On the other hand, Lukashenko has also threatened to cut off the flow of gas from Russia to the EU through his country as winter approaches.