Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Belarusian-Polish border crisis and tensions in Ukraine are hot spots that Russia will use to test the West

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Russia is good at creating Imbroglios and developing a number of ways to use them for its own ends

Whether the migrant crisis was ordered on the Polish border by Moscow or simply the work of the Lukashenko dictatorship, both Russia and Belarus believe they will benefit from it.

Russia is good at creating Imbroglios and finding tons of ways to exploit them for its own ends.

It certainly likes to sow discord in Western Europe. Building tensions between Minsk and the EU could give her the excuse she needs to send her tanks to Belarus.

Lukashenko will go into whatever Russia, its sponsor, wants.

Neither Moscow nor Minsk have the slightest consideration for the well-being of desperate migrants who are being squeezed against barbed wire in icy conditions.

Moscow is undoubtedly testing Poland’s perceived status as the weakest link in the EU. Warsaw, which is itself accused of increasing authoritarianism, is seriously at odds with Brussels.

Putin likely hoped that the EU would not stand by its eastern member in responding coherently to external threats, given Europe’s pathetic record.

But it has it – by giving Minsk an ultimatum and threatening its basket economy with further sanctions.

“That’s a positive result,” says Keir Giles, a Chatham House Russia expert and director of the Conflict Studies Research Center.

“We know that sticking together works. And sanctions work.

“As an exception, the EU supports the frontline states. It has threatened Belarus and airlines like Belavia with sanctions if they continue to transport migrants. ”

The aim is to stop the grotesque spectacle of the Assad regime in Syria, which flies human chess pieces to the Lukashenko regime in Belarus.

Talks between the EU and airlines and transit nations are beginning to show initial results, Germany announced on Thursday. This followed an announcement by Turkey to ban Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni citizens from flying to Belarus from Turkish airports.

However, Moscow is testing Western resolve on other fronts as well, most clearly in Ukraine, with Kiev anxiously watching Russian tank movements.

Kiev and its western allies warned Moscow of a new military attack on Thursday.

The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of waging a “hybrid war” against Europe. He said Moscow’s fingerprints were all over the migrant crisis on the border between Poland and Belarus.

But even if Russian troops move to Belarus rather than Ukraine, Kiev’s concerns will not be entirely alleviated. The Red Army’s presence in Belarus means it faces a new threat from the north to add to the Russian threat on the Eastern Front.

Since the USA and NATO have their eyes firmly on Ukraine for the time being, another invasion to complement their land grab in Crimea in 2014 seems unlikely.

But Moscow will continue to plan. Recent tensions conveniently divert attention from efforts to close down two of the most prominent human rights groups in the country, the International Memorial, the Human Rights Center Memorial.

Nobody knows exactly what else the Kremlin has in mind.

But one thing is certain, says Giles: “While all western eyes are on migrant trouble spots, Moscow will use the distraction to plan something else.”

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