With the onset of winter, thousands of migrants from Iraq, Syria and Yemen are still stranded in a cold region on the border between Russia’s ally Belarus and EU member Poland. Their goal is very clear: to reach as soon as possible with rich EU countries such as Germany, France and Belgium. But the tension created by a terrible new Cold War means that these desperate refugees from the Middle East are playing soldiers in a geopolitical game.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko sees immigrants as an instrument of repression of protesters in 2020 and took them to an Eastern European country to punish Western nations for imposing sanctions on Belarus’ Minsk, with opposition leader Roman Protashevic arrested last May. . Lukashenko’s policy seems simple: the more EU sanctions he imposes on his country, the more he will send immigrants to the camp.
Do not back down
But it is clear that the EU does not want to back down. On Monday, Brussels agreed to impose additional sanctions on Belarus. Although the final details are still being discussed, the sanctions are expected to target 30 individuals and companies, including the country’s foreign minister and Belarusian Airlines (Belarus).
Of course, such a move would have a significant impact on the entire continent, especially since Russia has already reduced gas supplies to the EU, leading to a significant increase in energy prices. But since the Yamal Europe natural gas pipelines passing through Belarus are owned by the Russian energy company Gasprom, Lukashenko will not be able to stop gas transport unless he gets the green light from Moscow.
If the Kremlin wants to heat up events and accept Lukashenko’s decision, power outages will be imposed in many European countries. According to reports, the European Union is preparing to impose sanctions on the Russian airline “Airflot” due to the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border. According to some reports, EU leaders believe that Airflood is transporting migrants from the Middle East to Minsk and from there trying to cross the Polish border.
But the Russian airline vehemently refuses to do this work. If Brussels imposes these sanctions on the Russian company, the Kremlin could respond by blocking EU flights to Russia, which could lead to an increase in air ticket prices for many countries.
Threats of sanctions against Aeroflot seem to have been taken seriously by the Turkish airline, which has confirmed that it will no longer carry Iraqis, Syrians and Yemen on its flights from Minsk.
In fact, after the European Union threatened to suspend its flights to Belarus by Iraqi Airways, most of the emigrants began to travel to Minsk via Istanbul. Now that the Turkish route has been closed, Belarusian authorities plan to increase the number of flights from several Middle Eastern countries to Belarus, one of the former Soviet republics. The West expects the West to continue to try to prevent such actions, but if Lukashenko seeks to retaliate against EU sanctions, he could bring in migrants from Central Asia or perhaps Russia’s Chechnya and move refugees to the EU’s Belarusian border.
Poland, Lithuania and Latvia create barriers on the border with Belarus. Recent history shows that such measures can be very effective. In 2017, the Hungarian government set up a barbed wire fence on its border with Serbia. As a result, immigrants made less effort to enter the EU illegally. But Lukashenko did not stop the Cold War with the EU, he could lead the refugees south to Ukraine. Asylum seekers then try to move to poorer European countries, such as Poland, Slovakia or Hungary.
In Belarus’ view, what the EU is doing in the Middle East has devastated many countries, and these refugees are being forced to look for a better life elsewhere. That is why Belarusian authorities remind the EU that if a person leaves a war zone and comes to Germany, France or other EU member states, he or she can apply for refugee status.
Russia’s foreign minister has accused the European Union (EU) of being “double-edged” when it comes to sending refugees to Europe via Turkey. In other words, Lavrov publicly recommends that the West pay Lukashenko money to stop sending refugees to the EU.
This option seems unreasonable. In the eyes of the EU, any concessions to Belarus, whether in the form of financial aid or the lifting of sanctions, could be interpreted as a sign of the union’s weakness. Countries. That is why the West refuses to negotiate directly with Lukashenko and focuses on putting pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel has twice called on the Russian president within a week to resolve the refugee crisis. But there must be Lukashenko in any possible agreement between the West and Russia. He is not Putin’s puppet, his country is heavily dependent on Russia. Lukashenko has always made every effort to defend the sovereignty of Belarus. As Putin said, the President of Belarus is a very difficult negotiator. The EU is learning it very hard.
Lukashenko’s policy seems simple: the more EU sanctions he imposes on his country, the more emigrants he will send to the EU.
Belarusian officials continue to remind the European Union that if a person leaves the war zone and goes to Germany, France or EU member states, he or she can apply for refugee status.
Nikolai Mikovic அரசியல் Serbian political analyst
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