Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

Migration attack against Poland and EU reaction


The situation on the Polish-Belarusian border reached its peak in November. The leadership of Belarus does not even try to hide the fact that the crisis is artificial. The Belarusian special services organize transportation of migrants, coordinate their movements and attempts to storm the Polish border. In addition, Belarusian authorities also profit from refugees through the sale of visas. In an interview with the BBC, Alexander Lukashenko bluntly stated that his servicemen «in all likelihood» are helping migrants to get to Poland illegally. Today, there are casualties among the Polish border guards, and one of them died by misadventure.

It took almost six months for EU and NATO countries to understand the threat of an artificial crisis created by Alexander Lukashenko's regime and to begin discussing the possibility of convening consultations with allies under Article 4 of the NATO Charter. A state of emergency has now been declared in Poland and Lithuania, while the United Kingdom has sent a limited contingent to help and possibly to monitor the situation and better understand the current situation. However, so far, the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance have not taken coordinated action to repel hybrid aggression. According to the EU, Josep Borrell has proposed the creation of a 5,000-strong rapid reaction force by 2025 to respond to hybrid attacks against the bloc, such as the Belarusian attack on Poland.

It is worth noting that after the signing of the integration decree and the approval of 28 union programs, including military doctrine, between the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation, Alexander Lukashenko finally loses his autonomy and becomes completely dependent on Vladimir Putin. Realizing this, Angela Merkel tried to reach an agreement with the Kremlin leader to stop migrants attack on Europe's Eastern European borders. The Russian president, in turn, pushed Angela Merkel to direct talks with the illegitimate president of Belarus, which Merkel did by calling Lukashenko twice, thereby outraging Germany's European allies. According to Bild, Merkel did not rule out the possibility of indirect financial assistance to Belarus for the construction of housing for migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border. Merkel's talks with Lukashenko were particularly sharply criticized in Poland: «Chancellor Angela Merkel violates all EU principles by talking to Minsk and Moscow on her own. Her behavior is reminiscent of the worst moments in history, when Central European countries were treated as objects of political bargaining», Beata Szydlo, a Member of the European Parliament and former Polish prime minister said. Meanwhile, Andrzej Duda stated that Poland would not recognise any arrangements regarding the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border that would be made over their heads. «We are a sovereign country that has the right to decide for itself and we will exercise this right without any conditions», Duda stressed.

Despite any agreements, it can be expected that the hybrid aggression with the use of migrants against the European Union will continue. It is quite possible there will be fighters and members of terrorist organizations among the migrants who will make an effort destabilize European countries by organizing terrorist attacks. First of all, this situation plays into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who uses Lukashenko in his grand strategy against the West. The topic of migrants is very sensitive for the EU. Previously, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has already used migrants to strengthen his position in negotiations with the European Union. This issue has always caused a lot of controversy within the EU and negatively influenced the unity of the organization. Such actions fit into the concept of Russia's warfare, when non-military methods in the form of information, economic, energy pressure at the first stage destabilize the domestic political situation within the country against which aggression is directed. Further, non-military methods are supplemented with a military component. Currently, migrants are attacking the European borders from Belarus, and meanwhile, Russia is concentrating troops around the Ukrainian borders, as well as near Belarus, for a potential offensive.

Alexander Lukashenko has already stated about the possible closure of the gas pipeline passing through the territory of the Republic of Belarus to Poland and further to Germany. By shutting down the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, allegedly because of the position of the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Vladimir Putin will have an additional argument regarding the urgency of putting Nord Stream-2 into operation. Thus, the Russian Federation is gradually achieving its foreign policy goals by putting pressure on Ukraine and the European Union countries.

In the context of the hybrid aggression of Putin and Lukashenko against the West, Ukraine should coordinate actions with the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance and strengthen the border with Belarus by developing engineering structures and increasing the number of armed forces. Two operational commands are responsible for the section of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border: «North» and «West». According to the information provided by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Serhiy Naev, with the growth of danger from the north, reconnaissance is intensified and, if necessary, the density of defense can be also increased: «We strengthen the air defense grouping, deploy additional units of anti-aircraft missile forces and aviation». The military, however, do not specify how exactly the Ukrainian army has strengthened the defense of the northern regions due to the movement of Russian troops and the situation in Belarus – it is classified information.[1]

The question remains whether the capabilities of the Ukrainian group are enough to repel a potential offensive by Russia. According to The New York Times, the United States and the European Union are working to develop an action plan in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is primarily related to imposing sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy that are still operating without restrictions.[2] For 8 years of aggression against Ukraine, sanctions have not changed Russia's behavior. Russia has secured economic development in the new conditions, while its aggressive behavior in the international arena is only intensifying in both Ukrainian and European directions. Therefore, in the long run we should expect the continuation of the aggression of the Russian Federation against the EU and Ukraine.