NATO member Poland has begun deploying more than 1,000 additional troops and nearly 200 military vehicles to its eastern border region with Belarus. Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced this on Saturday, according to the PAP agency. With “Operation Podlachia” Poland wanted to show its willingness to react to “destabilization attempts” at the borders.
To the east, Podlaskie’s historic landscape borders the former Soviet republics, which are allied with Russia. Recently the presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Latvia expressed their concern about developments in neighboring Belarus in a joint letter to NATO.
The backdrop is Russia’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and the possible accommodation of fighters from the Wagner mercenary group in the country autocratically ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko.
Heusgen: Poland’s decision is understandable
The chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, saw it this way: “With this decision, Poland reacted to the announcement of the transfer of Wagner mercenaries to neighboring Belarus,” he told Tagesspiegel. “The world public saw how unfathomable these forces were when they recently rose up against the Putin regime.”
In this case, “Poland’s decision is understandable,” said Heusgen, who was Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy adviser for twelve years and then Germany’s representative at the United Nations in New York.
This “incidentally fits into the logic of NATO’s new forward defense strategy, which Federal Defense Minister Pistorius also followed with the transfer of a Bundeswehr brigade of 4,000 troops to Lithuania”.
Is it also about preventing migration?
However, in the international media, it was alleged that there was another non-military reason for the transfer of troops and materials to Belarus: migration. The far-right nationalist government in Warsaw could also fear a repeat of winter 2021 events under Lukashenko’s unspecified “destabilization drive.”
At the time, the dictator sent people seeking refuge across the border to Poland, one of the most hostile countries in the EU at the time, perhaps after consulting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Warsaw’s adamant refusal to let them cross the border meant that many people had to endure the no man’s land between the two countries without adequate aid or clothing. Some of them died.
A little later, in late February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Poland receives far more Ukrainian refugees than any other country in the EU. Although the mood towards migration in the country has changed significantly and the Polish economy is now suffering massively from a shortage of workers, the ruling right-wing nationalist PiS party in Warsaw sticks to its defensive policies.
An immigration referendum is possible on election day
He recently made exceptions with a bill that would ease labor migration from India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria. But he quickly withdrew after opposition leader Donald Tusk mocked the contradictions in a video criticized as hostile by migrant groups in Poland.
Poland will elect a new parliament in autumn. PiS is currently planning to hold a referendum on immigration policy and set an election day date.
In a resolution, the majority of Poland’s parliament recently voted against a new EU migration pact. In addition to drastic austerity and defense, it contains a rule that those seeking protection should be better distributed within the EU. Therefore, countries that do not receive the planned number of people will have to pay 20,000 euros per capita. (with dpa)
“Subtly charming web junkie. Unapologetic bacon lover. Introvert. Typical foodaholic. Twitter specialist. Professional travel fanatic.”