Following the first attempts to storm the Polish border on November 9, the crowds of refugees were forced to establish a tent city near the fence, while the temperature is sharply decreasing. Hundreds of people, including women and children, are huddling round campfires, as Polish security forces block their way ‘to a dream life in the European Union’.
While Polish and Belorussian officials continue to exchange threats, blaming each other for the escalation of the crisis, the situation on the border is nearing the deadlock.
According to the head of the Polish Defense Ministry Mariusz Blaszczak, earlier the refugees used to stay together in one large group near the Kuznica border checkpoint. Today, the border guards have to confront small groups of those who are trying to cross the fence all along the border.
As a result, the number of Polish military personnel deployed in the area has been increased from 12 thousand to 15 thousand soldiers, and if necessary, this number will grow.
Apparently, there is already such a necessity, since Polish efforts are not enough to contain the pressure.
On the night of November 10, two large groups broke through the border and entered the territory of Poland. According to the Polish radio Bialystok, the incidents took place near the town of Krynki and the village of Bialowieza. All migrants were detained during the day.
Apparently, many were forced to enter back the Belarusian territory.
Belarusian guards shared photos of four Kurdish men who were reportedly injured when they attempted to cross the border. According to the refugees’ claims, they were detained and beaten by the Polish soldiers. The Kurds were later treated by Belorussian soldiers.
Earlier, the Belarussians supplied the camp with food and water, delivered necessary heating supplies. Emergency from the Grodno region are on duty at the camp.
The same day, the Belorussian State Border Committee claimed about several provocations attempted by the Polish side.
“In addition to the physical violence and the use of gas against the refugees trying to cross to the fence, Polish servicemen use military weapons and shoot over their heads.” – the Committee reported.
While opening fire, the Poles aim to intimidate the crowds, at the same time, the risk of victims is growing. In case of further aggravation, such clashes may lead to a border conflict, as Belorussian soldiers would be also involved.
Bloodshed is not beneficial to either side.
It is unlikely that Polish guards will use the lethal force against the refugees, as this would outrage public opinion in neighboring European countries. Any violation of human rights and the principles to which the EU appeals would hit Poland back, as its conservative domestic policy has already brought sanctions on Warsaw. The European Court of Justice has already fined Poland €1 million per day for ignoring an EU ruling that called for the country’s Supreme Court disciplinary chamber to be suspended.
Today, having found itself in a very difficult situation, and being unable to take any effective measures, Warsaw is only sending empty threats to Minsk.
“If the migration crisis worsens, Warsaw is considering the possibility of completely closing traffic across the Polish-Belarusian border,” Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller claimed in a statement.
While Warsaw is calling for new sanctions against ‘totalitarian regimes’ in Minsk and Moscow, it has a little feedback from Brussels.
Not only threats are heard from the EU headquarters. Being a hostage to its own migration policy, the European Union ended up asking Russia to use its influence on Belarus to solve the problem.
“I repeat our call on behalf of the European Union to Russia to use its influence on Belarus, the close ties between Russia and Belarus in many areas, to pursue Lukashenko to stop his activities”, – said the representative of the press service of the European Commission Peter Stano at a press conference.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoned Putin to ask him to get Belarus to stop the “inhumane” instrumentalisation of migrants, her spokesman said Wednesday.
Putin suggested the EU should engage in “direct contacts” with Minsk on the issue, the Kremlin said in a separate statement from Moscow about the phone call.
This indicates that the EU does not intend to resort to active actions at the moment. Moscow has a similar position.
The Kremlin will not interfere in the conflict, and will simply continue to issue official statements within the official political course of the country.
Today Moscow is trying to avoid any sharp aggravation in relations with European countries, as the Nord Stream-2 pipeline was recently completed. Still, the project operator, Nord Stream 2 AG, has to obtain certification of the gas pipeline in a full compliance with the EU Gas Directive. The decision on this procedure should be provided by the German regulator – the Federal Grid Agency of Germany until January 8 next year. But the Bundestag has already supposed that there are risks of delays.
Despite the loud accusations from Europe, especially Poland and the Baltic states, which crave greater protection from ‘Russian aggression’, Moscow is not interested in any escalation and certainly is not behind any provocation on the Polish border.
The European Union forgets that it was its long-term migration policy that led to the current deep crisis.
Irresponsible interference in the affairs of sovereign states in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia have caused the EU’s current problems.
Today’s clashes are not a surprise, but only one of a chain of incidents that have been taking place along the European borders for many years.
Today, Poland has nothing left but to blame others for its own troubles as loudly as possible in order to attract the support of its European partners, who are not eager to take any measures.
That is why the media today are focused on the Polish border, showing a little girl begging for water from the Polish soldiers, and old men demonstrate the terrible conditions in which they are forced to meet winter frosts.
To heighten the effect, Polish intelligence officially declared that Poland faced “the largest attempt of mass forceful penetration into the country.”
Poland should have drawn conclusions of the European refugee crisis in 2015, when Hungary found itself in a similar situation, building fences on the border with Serbia, from where a large flow of refugees then came.
A few thousand refugees at the Polish border cannot be compared with the number of those dead in the Mediterranean in recent years. Not to mention the total number of refugees at that time. According to the EU migration service Frontex, only in 2015, 885 thousand illegal migrants moved to Europe on the Turkey-Greece route alone.
Thus, today’s conflict on the Polish-Belorussian border is rather a confrontation between two countries, and it likely will not pose a threat to the European security. Being an endurance test, it is unlikely to escalate into a larger conflict, since neither side is ready to open fire, and also has no firm support from Russia nor the EU, which would not sacrifice their own interests for several thousand refugees. Unfortunately, the fate of those refugees is the main bargaining chip in this conflict.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Belarus Reinforces Air Defenses Along Its Western And Northwestern Border
- The Migrant Tug Of War At The Belarus-Poland Border
- Lithuania Mulls State Of Emergency In Anticipation Of Migrant Wave From Belarus