Belarus military expert speculates on what Lukashenka wants to achieve with migration crisis

On the morning of November 8, more than a thousand migrants under the control of Belarusian security forces approached the Polish border. The migrants were heading for the checkpoint Bruzgi, but the Belarusian law enforcers directed them to the forest, where the migrants approached the fence on the border and tried to break it. There are hundreds of border guards and military officers on duty on the Polish side.

Armed unmarked fighters from Belarusian side are waiting for migrants near Kuznica border crossing. November 8, 2021. Photo: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej / Twitter

What is the meaning of this “march” and what does Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has been repeatedly called responsible for the crisis by the western countries want to achieve by the migration crisis? spoke with military expert Alyaksandr Alesin.

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There shouldn’t be any shooting

According to Alesin, Lukashenka would not provoke the Poles to shoot, because it could lead to grave consequences. And Poland is unlikely to open fire: it already has strained relations with the European Union. According to Alesin, Poland is treated as a “disobedient child.”

Alyaksandr Alesin.

“I think that Lukashenka wants Poland to deliver his message to the West, that he still wants to restore contacts, wants to force the West to talk to him as an equal partner, that he has an important tool in his hands to regulate or stop this movement of migrants,” Alesin said. “His main goal is to force Poland to deliver a message to the West that they have to make contact with Lukashenka without preconditions.”

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Alesin believes that it is important for Lukashenka to establish contact with the West, while he is so far in the East. Lukashenka will continue this policy until he gets a softening of relations — maybe even backstage talks, not only about migrants but about the “legalization” of Lukashenka and his recognition as the leader of Belarus.

The threat is not only in migrants but also in Russia

Alesin believes that the West may be willing to “go back” because “Lukashenka was driven into the clutches of Putin” and even if it will not help return to the pre-election condition, the West would pursue a policy that would stop Lukashenka’s further slide to the East.

Lukashenka’s further military cooperation with the Kremlin could lead to the deployment of a Russian military contingent in Belarus and a significant strengthening of the regional grouping of ground forces, which Lukashenka has already mentioned. There could be both a strengthening of the Belarusian army with new weapons and the creation of something similar to military bases as “training centers,” or an increase in the frequency of exercises to an already almost permanent “rotational” basis.

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Such tactics sound dubious. Can they really work in the 21st century?

According to Alesin, the West does not like such developments. It does not want Lukashenka to fall completely under Russia’s influence. But the expert believes that “it’s a little late,” and the West has no such arguments that could interest Lukashenka, and even if it does, the West is not ready to use them.

“I think the stakes are rising,” Alesin concludes. “Unfortunately, the game could get out of hand on both sides at some point. Here’s the danger: if events become uncontrollable and develop according to their own logic. That’s when you can prepare for the worst-case scenario.”

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