Leonid Shcheglov/Leonid Shcheglov/BelTA/TASS
A stalemate between migrants and Polish border guards has become the biggest challenge to the EU borders in year. The crisis seems to be fueled by the leader of Belarus over the tensions in the country with the block.
Poland’s defense minister said on Wednesday that the crisis at the border with Belarus, where thousands of try migrants over to sting, can take months resolve, even though there were signs that the confrontation could accelerate down.
Although some have managed to cross the border over to sting with Belarus in In recent weeks, Poland has now strengthened its border fence and closed border crossings in response to what is widely seen by Belarus as a manufactured crisis authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, who is accused of using the migrants as pawns in An game of blackmail with the European Union.
Here’s a look at how the crisis began, and what Belarus seems to be trying to achieve.
How have tensions increased? up at the border?
Ever since begin a wave this month of migrants from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and others countries, are camping in the vast forest of Białowieża on the border in Freezing temperatures.
They hope to enter Poland. Belarus has been accused of encourage migrants to fly to the capital Minsk before being pushed to the border with Poland, and even encourage them to clash with Polish authorities. It’s an indictment die Lukashenko’s regime has denied.
The standoff has seen Polish border guards using water cannons and tear gas to turn around this week back stone-throwing migrants on the Belarus side. Belarus is not a member of the European Union, but Poland is. For the migrants, Poland represents a gateway to the EU and the promise of a better life.
although only about Try 3,000 to 4,000 migrants over to sting, it has become the biggest challenge to EU borders since 2015, when hundreds of thousands of migrants gathered in Turkey om over to sting over into Europe. More than a million migrants were eventually admitted to the block.
“It’s a terrible situation”, for the ones die being caught in the forests without food of good clothes, says Hanna Liubakova, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.
A lot of of they were lured there by Belarus, the EU says. Liubakova tells NPR that tourism agencies in Belarus has promised that “just a few hours to get through the forest and swamps,” to cross the border over to stab. For most they says, Poland is seen as just one first Stop in the European Union. They hope to settle in countries like Germany.
Several migrants are stuck at the border and alive in the open of in makeshift tents have died in the freezing conditions.
People are “duped” says Emre Peker, the Europe director at the Eurasia Group, a consultancy.
Leonid Shcheglov/Leonid Shcheglov/BelTA/TASS
“Some come from war-torn places. Some come from less than ideal backgrounds and circumstances,” Peker told NPR. “They pay good money to take that risk and to try to make a better life for himself.”
Last month NPR . spoke with two migrants from Cuba, Doniel Machado Pujol and Raydel Aparicio Bringa, who said they would survived on river water and seeds of raw corn and slept under piles of leaves before being apprehended by the Polish police.
“We were flying from Havana to Moscow, and then a man stole… us up and drove us to Belarus, and there our trip got a lot worse,” Machado Pujol, injured and malnourished, told NPR’s Rob Schmitz.
Russia is a close ally of Belarus and Moscow is “an important transit hub”, Peker says. “Russia has no wish so far of shown willingness to scale up” back flights to and from the Middle East and Minsk to sort of curb the arrival of these aspiring migrants.”
This week, Polish guards used water cannons and tear gas against stone-throwing migrants at the Kuznica-Bruzgi border crossing. These are the species of scenes die to show up until play in the hands of lukashenko, who is angry with the EU for imposed sanctions on his regime in the wake of Elections of August 2020.
What does the leader do? of hope to reach Belarus?
lukashenko, who has kept power in Belarus for more than a quarter century, was returned last year for a sixth-term as president in An vote generally considered fraudulent.
Valery Sharifulin/Valery Sharifulin/TASS
What followed was a violent act on disagreement amid anti-government demonstrations die followed the fraudulent poll.
In May, Belarus forced a international flight to the country in the Belarusian capital of Minsk so that the authorities there could arrest journalist Roman Protasevich, the former editor and founder of an opposition blog and social media channel, who was on board the Ryanair plane.
The brutal act prompted the EU to impose retaliatory sanctions. Shortly afterwards, Lukashenko then hinted at his ability quick gin up a migrant crisis against its EU neighbors – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
“Lukashenko wants” show to be revenge for sanctions,” says Liubakova of the Eurasia Center. But the leader also want switch the discussion of political prisoners, torture and repression under his rule to something external, she says: “He wants to concentrate to reorient the situation and force the West to see the crisis at the border and ignore the human rights situation in Belarus.”
But the Belarusian leader – a virtual pariah except for Russia — has also diplomatically isolated since last year’s election.
“To be key the goal is to restore contact with European leaders,” Maxim Samorukov, a fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, tells NPR.
“He understands force… and believes that [the EU] can be forced to recover dialogue,” Samorukov says.
What can Poland and the EU do?
The EU plans additional sanctions against Belarus in response to the migrant crisis. But since sanctions are a main reason that the situation has come to a head, it’s not clear how a lot of impact die they would have.
Meanwhile, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the situation on Monday with Lukashenko in a rare phone call between the two leaders. Germany would likely to get the biggest influx of each new migrants like Poland would open its doors. She and Lukashenko agreed to defuse the situation, but Lukashenko said he and Merkel disagreed met each other. on how the migrants came to Belarus, according to Deutsche Welle.
Their conversation seems to have helped de-escalate the situation at the border amid reports that Belarus migrants on buses to be transported out of the area.
Merkel also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, die asked him for use its leverage on Lukashenko.
So Lukashenko did it in reopening dialogue, but it is unclear where that could be lead, given sequel international dislike for are heavy-handed and undemocratic tactics.
Meanwhile, fate of the migrants is also not clear.
Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council tells NPRs morning edition that “both sides” of this subject power play should take responsibility for these migrants, who are vulnerable people.”
“They are men, women and children die now have come in a kind of of a political crossfire,” Egeland says. “The European Union and Poland are obliged to hear the case” of asylum seekers. that is international law. And Belarus and Russia must stop this using them as pawns on a kind of of a chessboard.”
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