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What are the positions of the European Union and Russia regarding the migration crisis in Poland and Belarus?

For almost a year now, Poland and Belarus have been theatres of large migratory movements, specifically from Syria, which transit through these countries to reach Western Europe; sometimes this involves migrants experiencing almost inhuman conditions. Poland and Belarus also represent struggles for influence between the EU and the United States on one side and Russia on the other. Therefore, it is important to understand the interests of the great powers in this Eastern European crisis.

First, what are the causes of the conflict?

Poland, a member of the European Union, has been confronted since last summer with the mass arrival of migrants from the Middle East, who were invited to transit through Belarus by President Alexander Lukashenko, who promised them that this is the safest route to Western Europe.

Poland, for its part, accuses Belarus of pressuring it by using human beings as targets, in addition to denouncing the mistreatment of many migrants, citing such cases as the body of a young Syrian man that was found by Polish police in November.

Poland has, therefore, asked the European Union for financial aid to slow down the migratory influx by building a wall on its border with Belarus.

Secondly, what is the role of Europe and Russia in this conflict ?

The European Union is denouncing the actions of Belarus and, more specifically, of its president Alexander Lukashenko, who is accused, firstly, of having been re-elected in a fraudulent manner, and then of organising flights to his country so that migrants can subsequently reach Europe. The European Union has decided to act by asking Turkey to stop the flights of migrants from its territory to Belarus, which Turkey agreed to do.

Faced with the numerous accusations and Europe’s position in this crisis, Alexander Lukashenko decided to position Belarus towards Russia. Together they are exerting strong pressure by conducting military exercises in the region at present.

The Belarusian president also wants to put pressure on the European Union by threatening to cut off the gas flowing through his country to the West. However, Russia refused to follow through on Lukashenko’s threat. This illustrates, once again, the Kremlin’s desire to destabilise the EU, but not at the cost of a conflict that could spread.

In conclusion, Europe welcomes the Turkish intervention, which for them has considerably reduced the migratory influx, but Poland insists on the need for a wall at its borders.

Belarus, for its part, seems isolated in this crisis and Europe accuses it of being the originator and the profiteer. As a result, Belarus turned to its only support in the region, Russia, which has a complicated history with the European Union due to numerous conflicts, some of which are still ongoing, such as Ukraine and human rights.

Although each side is stalling for fear that the conflict will spread, it is far from being resolved.

Andy DESBERG

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