Despite that, a dialogue between the EU and Russia must be restarted. Despite not possessing the legal right to cross into the Schengen Zone, the migrants then attacked the Polish border guards with stones and whatever else they could use. These were tightened again after a state-sponsored hijacking of a passenger plane last spring. Lukashenko ordered the Belarussian Air Force to intercept and force a Ryanair flight flying from Athens to Vilnius to land in order to arrest an opposition member that was on board the flight. By Otmar Lahodynsky
Ex-President of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) and former European Editor of the Profil news magazine in Austria
epa08200835 Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko arrives for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 07 February 2020. The migrants were subsequently turned back with water cannons, tear gas and batons. Morawiecki demanded that the new German government immediately stop the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline as part of a response to the hybrid war that is being carried out against Europe. Facebook
One can hardly imagine the misery of the refugees at the border between Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. Just prior to the outbreak of the migrant crisis, the EU’s highest court imposed a €1 million daily fine on Warsaw in an attempt to persuade the Poles to abolish its new disciplinary chamber. This time, however, Lukashenko’s patron in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, did not agree. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke twice on the phone with Lukashenko this week. The Belarussian national airline Belavia, along with Turkish Airlines, allegedly chartered flights and brought the people to the Belarussian capital Minsk. He may also be worried that control of the situation on the border with Poland and Lithuania could slip from his grasp. A correspondent from Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Ivo Mijnssen, was in the area of the border zone and reported: “The misery is indescribable. She could be saved for the time being.”
Polish military vehicles usually take such migrants back to the border with Belarus soon after initial treatment. We found a woman with 5 children who had a body temperature of only 25 degrees and took her to a hospital. The Polish authorities do not allow journalists to reach the border and have sealed off a three-kilometre-wide strip as a prohibited zone. A few hundred managed to cross the green border at first, then to Germany. In the meantime, however, Lukashenko seems to be trying to de-escalate the situation: Apparently, he fears that several thousand migrants could remain in Belarus permanently. A first plane did indeed take over 400 of the migrants on November 18, all of which had agreed to be sent back to Iraq. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Is Lukashenko setting a new trap for Europe? Lukashenko, for his part, threatened to cut off a natural gas pipeline running through his country, which would limit the supply of Russian gas to Europe. Furthermore, he deliberately chose the timing, as Germany has yet to form a new government after their federal elections in October. I was in the forests with a delegation of doctors. Belarus’ dictator is deliberately using migrants to blackmail the EU
Lukashenko’s actions are part of his reaction to sanctions that were imposed by the EU after last year’s rigged presidential election. Reports have indicated that the new round embargoes would have included cutting the country off from international payments. Poland’s government has refused to let officials from the EU border protection agency Frontex – which is based in Warsaw – to the border and has rejected offers of help from other countries. Lukashenko is perhaps now afraid that he will lose control of the border conflict that he artificially caused and that the migrants could stay in Belarus for a long time. Putin must fear that the conflict could postpone the completion and bringing on line of the new Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Poland’s right-wing government is itself in conflict with Brussels over political interference in the Polish judiciary. Contradictory signals from Minsk should lead to talks between the EU and Putin on Belarus. This has made direct reports from the border rare. Near the border with Poland, an old warehouse has been converted to accommodate the migrants, who are now no longer allowed to approach the border strip. Lukashenko, himself, now actually seems interested in da e-escalation. The fact that Putin has called on Lukashenko to enter into a dialogue with members of the opposition in Belarus is a good sign. The EU should now quickly start talks with Lukashenko’s patrons in the Kremlin. Requests for asylum are not accepted. And they all have only one goal – they want to enter the EU, with most of them wanting to reach Germany. The Polish army then built a tight cordon along the 400 km long border with barbed wire and soldiers. The Belarussian opposition, which is supposed to meet for a conference in Vienna on November 22, has nothing against a representative of Russia taking part and acting as a mediator. The ill-fated visit by Europe Foreign Affairs chief, Josep Borrell, in March marked a low point in relations between Moscow and Brussels. As a precondition, however, political prisoners should be released and acts of violence stopped, according to a spokesman for the leader of the opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. At that meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov utterly embarrassed Borrell. Or, in the worst-case scenario, he may want to set a new trap for the EU. Lukashenko, however, will only agree to this if more pressure is applied by the Kremlin. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko. To that end, even a real war can no longer be excluded. The European Commission has so far strictly rejected negotiations with Minsk. They all have been lured by the dictator of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is on a working visit to Russia to discuss aspect of the Russia-Belarus cooperation, including oil and gas cooperation which is on the top on the agenda talks. According to information from Minsk, a deal was negotiated: The EU would take in 2,000 refugees, and Lukashenko would repatriate the remainder, about 5,000 people, back to the Middle East. “We are defending the EU border here in Poland. Sadly, the EU also acted in a rather clueless and uncoordinated manner, and has done so since the beginning of the crisis. Lukashenko has upped the stakes in his ongoing war with the West by trying to force thousands of illegal migrants to cross Poland’s – and the EU’s – borders. According to Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Germany, in particular, should have a special interest in protecting the EU’s external border. And when we talk about the bigger picture: Let’s work together for peace and not give Vladimir Putin extra money through energy payments so he can keep arming.”
The EU was reluctant to impose new, more severe, sanctions on Belarus. To be sure, Moscow has so far done everything to weaken and divide the EU. Thousands of people from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, many of them Kurds and Yazidis, are camping in the woods in freezing temperatures with little supplies and no medical care. From there they were taken by bus to the border with Poland and Lithuania. This is the only way to prevent further provocations by Lukashenko and thus further, and even greater, human suffering.