EU should thank Poland for standing up to Belarus

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At the beginning of November, the situation on Belarus’ border with NATO and the European Union was dramatic. Belarusian authorities continued to bring migrants to the border, where some of them, attracted by Belarusian forces, began attack the Polish soldiers guarding it. Indeed, Belarusians themselves harassed Polish soldiers and tried to tear down Poland’s border fence. But a month later, the migrants return home and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s subversive campaign begins to fail. The rest of Europe should thank Poland and its fellow border defenders, Latvia and Lithuania, and learn a lesson.

It was a sheepish Lukashenko who addressed a group of migrants in Belarus at the end of last month: “If the Germans and Poles are not listening to me today, it is not my fault” , does he have Recount them. “I’ll do whatever you like, even if it hurts the Poles and others.” But you have to understand that we cannot start a war to force a corridor through Poland into Germany.

No more swaggering in May, when the Belarusian leader promised to flood the EU with drugs and migrants, and even since last month, when Lukashenko told the BBC that if the migrants “keep coming from now on, I still won’t stop them because they don’t come to my country.” They go to you. The migrants, of course, were desperate to get to the EU and were underhandedly exploited by a leader in need of a weapon. Even the loss of the lives of some migrants did not prompt Lukashenko to abandon his campaign.

At the beginning of November, the situation on Belarus’ border with NATO and the European Union was dramatic. Belarusian authorities continued to bring migrants to the border, where some of them, attracted by Belarusian forces, began attack the Polish soldiers guarding it. Indeed, Belarusians themselves harassed Polish soldiers and tried to tear down Poland’s border fence. But a month later, the migrants return home and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s subversive campaign begins to fail. The rest of Europe should thank Poland and its fellow border defenders, Latvia and Lithuania, and learn a lesson.

It was a sheepish Lukashenko who addressed a group of migrants in Belarus at the end of last month: “If the Germans and Poles are not listening to me today, it is not my fault” , does he have Recount them. “I’ll do whatever you like, even if it hurts the Poles and others.” But you have to understand that we cannot start a war to force a corridor through Poland into Germany.

No more swaggering in May, when the Belarusian leader promised to flood the EU with drugs and migrants, and even since last month, when Lukashenko told the BBC that if the migrants “keep coming from now on, I still won’t stop them because they don’t come to my country.” They go to you. The migrants, of course, were desperate to get to the EU and were underhandedly exploited by a leader in need of a weapon. Even the loss of the lives of some migrants did not prompt Lukashenko to abandon his campaign.

Now Lukashenko admits in front of the migrants, his weapon of choice, that the aggression has failed. Indeed, this has failed so much that the Belarusian authorities relocate the migrants they sent to the border: Belarus has moved migrants in a shelter. Indeed, many are encouraged to return to their country of origin. On December 4, a repatriation flight carrying 419 migrants landed in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, and another landed three days later, meaning that to date some 3,000 of the migrants Lukashenko wanted to use to wreak havoc in the EU are gone home. (Almost 11,000 of those who managed to cross the Polish border went to Germany.)

Poland, Latvia and Lithuania won, and they did it by standing firm. And yes, the firm stance of the trio also saw Polish forces push migrants back across the border. Indeed, Poland – the EU’s whip of the day due to its government’s attacks on judicial independence – saved the EU from Belarus aggression by allocating money and around 15 000 soldiers at the border, assisted by Latvia and Lithuania, who also assigned money and troops to a border which, for three decades, has required only light civilian protection.

In addition, they called on these soldiers to act with more confidence than most EU member states would have dared. It didn’t really attract them to the parts of the EU that were already suspicious of its liberal democratic intentions, but the whole EU owes them immense gratitude.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if the three governments had decided that Belarus’ militarization of migrants was not their concern, as the migrants were trying to reach Germany anyway. They could have asked their border guards to perform superficial border duties but not risk their lives or bodies to stop illegal intrusions. They could also have decided to keep their soldiers on their usual missions rather than exposing them to Belarusian lasers and warning shots.

They could, in fact, have said, like Lukashenko, “they are not coming to my country; they go to you. Lukashenko’s militarization of migrants could have quickly exploded and it would have become a German and European problem rather than a Polish-Latvian-Lithuanian problem. Consider the implications of a migrant crisis – a crisis involving numbers like those that typically arrive in Greece and Italy – fueled by a hostile regime.

Instead, all three countries took one for the team and forced Lukashenko to retreat, for now. Yes, the European Union imposed sanctions, but even harsh penalties don’t bother targeted regimes much. And Lukashenko will try again with another tool he likes. Reminder: he has not yet kept his promise to flood the EU with drugs.

In defense, as in life, it’s easy to get stuck in familiar ways. Retailers are constantly encouraging their customers to try something new. We do it and we feel better about it. At first, the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s ran a the whole countryside encourage buyers to “try something new today”. Buyers responded enthusiastically, propelling a peak in revenue of $ 3.3 billion.

“Try something new today” is a maxim that is as useful to executives as it is to buyers. Lukashenko, for his part, is a firm believer in this approach in his efforts to harm other countries. Instead of using tools that other countries expect, it experiments and tries not only the militarization of migrants, but also air piracy. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are also trying new and different tactics, and other authoritarian leaders will no doubt follow them. Poland, Latvia and Lithuania also attempted something new, sending in serious soldiers and bringing in barbed wire when Lukashenko bet his armed migrants would meet only half-hearted resistance.

Other Western countries might learn from them by trying something different the next time Lukashenko tries one of his tricks, or when Putin or Xi do. “The autocrat Lukashenko has used the refugees for a cynical and cruel power play, and the EU must make it clear that such an attempt at blackmail will have serious consequences,” said Agnieszka Brugger, vice-president of the Bundestag of the German Greens.

“It means showing solidarity with Poland and the Baltic States, acting with humanity towards those who freeze at the border and applying severe sanctions against Lukashenko and his regime. And, she added, by agreeing to a system for distributing refugees within the European Union, EU member states can remove the spur of subversive plans like Lukashenko’s. “It would be a dangerous, cynical and senseless game to start a competition with autocrats to see who can lower their standards faster when dealing with refugees,” she added.

Latvian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Artis Pabriks also called for more solidarity with countries affected by subversive acts, which next time may not be Latvia, Lithuania and Poland , but rather a different group. Indeed, he declared, “Western Europe must change its discourse because it is disarmed in the face of the inventive minds of the FSB and the GRU. In decision making, political correctness being more important than reality will no longer work. “

Don’t just turn to tired old sanctions. Instead of, cancel all visas members of the establishment in one fell swoop (as Switzerland did with Libya when its former leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi, grabbed two Swiss businessmen in a fit of rage against Switzerland). Impose a luxury embargo. (Hint: The elites of the countries that go the most to harm the West love to wear Western designer brands and carry their stuff in Western designer bags.) The European Union is apparently working on one. arms trade which will ban countries that force EU companies to participate in lucrative European contracts. Why not use the ban to avenge other acts of aggression? Or, if a country is the target of a hostile regime, other countries could retaliate on its behalf and leave the aggressor guessing who is fighting back until a retaliation is underway.

“Deterrence is the art of instilling in the mind of the enemy the fear of attacking,” said Dr Strangelove in the eponymous masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick. Dr. Strangelove, of course, wants to produce this fear with nuclear weapons. But when the aggressor uses migrants, hostage diplomacy, or corporate coercion, threatening to use nuclear weapons will do nothing because both the aggressor and the defender know that the defender will never avenge the aggression with nuclear warheads.

That is why Lukashenko calculated that arming migrants would be an easy victory. Poland, Latvia and Lithuania not only thwarted this victory, but humiliated the dictator, forcing him to confess to migrants waiting in his country that they would not cross the border.

Trying something new has worked for Sainsbury’s. It worked for Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. Next time, it could stop Putin, Xi, or even the wildly innovative North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.



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