A Convenient Smokescreen
Over the past few weeks, tensions along the Belarusian-Polish border have escalated, as thousands of asylum seekers try to cross into Poland, a member of the European Union (EU). Belarus's lax visa process has lured many people from war-torn centuries in the Middle East hoping to make it to EU territory.
Belarus has been accused of pushing migrants to the border to try to destabilize the EU, a charge it denies. EU-Belarus relations have been severely strained since long-term leader Alexander Lukashenko declared victory in a discredited presidential election last year and tried to silence dissent by cracking down on mass protests and arresting political opponents. The EU imposed sanctions on Belarus in the wake of the pole and, along with the US, will step them up following the border crisis.
The crisis could be considered an act of hybrid warfare because Belarus is using migration strategically to put pressure on the EU and create discord within the bloc. This amounts to state-sponsored human trafficking aimed at creating a humanitarian crisis to force the EU and its member states to accede to Balarus's demands namely ending their sanctions.
Any concession to Belarus could further embolden the rise of right-wing parties in Europe and widen existing divisions within the EU. There were already fears Poland might be heading for 'Polexit' from the bloc over migration and other issue.
Russia could be seeking to exploit the crisis as part of its "reflection control" grey-zone approach. This refers to using a combination of military, political and economic pressure to weaken the west and cement its own role as a still-relevant global player and potential mediator.
the crises and the parallel escalation of tensions between Poland, Belarus and Russia have served governments on all sides in the pursuit of their foreign and domestic agendas. This war industry is perpetuating the dictatorships, such as Putin's and Lukashenko's, by constantly gifting them with opportunities to escalate belligerent rhetoric and lift the rallying flag of a threat against the nation. In the end those who suffer the consequences of manufactured crises and escalations of tensions are ordinary people who have to bear the brunt of far-right politics and war-centered economies.