After the disputed August 2020 elections in Belarus, followed by a crackdown against political dissidents in that country, Lithuania supported efforts by pro-democracy groups. In response, the autocratic regime of Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has retaliated against Lithuania - and against the European Union, of which Lithuania is a member and which has also imposed sanctions against Belarus - for their interference.
Michael Yon reports on the latest developments. It looks very much as if the Belarus regime is trying to "weaponize" illegal migration against those it sees as its enemies.
Lithuanian authorities say an Iraqi ‘travel agency’ has been set up in Baghdad to fly Iraqis and others straight to Minsk, capital city of Belarus. From Minsk they are transported to the Lithuanian border and pushed forward. Some migrants apparently become lost and travel back into Belarus and are then sent back to Lithuania.
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Belarus' dictator has specifically threatened to flood Lithuania and EU with ‘migrants’ and radioactive material, and he is making good on the migrants.
According to various Lithuanian officials I spoke with here in Lithuania, Lithuania has information that Belarus is actively flying in ‘migrants’, issuing visa on arrival, wiping their phones of all historical information, and forcing them to the border.
Iraqi Kurds told us yesterday they were bussed but did not know the route they took. Many Africans from Congo, Cameroon, more.
Belarus is weaponizing migrants. Belarus, using Lithuania as unwilling transit, is shaping up to make Lithuania the new Greece, the new Ceuta, the Mexico of EU.
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Lithuanian is about to get flooded — my guess.
There's more at the link.
Lukashenko said this week that Belarus wouldn't shutter its border with Lithuania and "become a camp for people fleeing Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Tunisia."
"We won't hold anyone, they are coming not to us but to the enlightened, warm and cozy Europe," Lukashenko added mockingly.
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Tensions between the EU and Belarus have escalated further after Belarus diverted a passenger jet on May 23 to arrest an opposition journalist.
Lukashenko has said his country will halt cooperation with the 27-nation bloc on stemming migration, in retaliation for bruising economic sanctions the EU slapped on Belarus over the passenger jet diversion.
Again, more at the link.
It looks like Belarus has learned from Turkey, which has successfully "weaponized" the migration of Syrian and other refugees through its territory to Europe for several years. Faced with growing European opposition to the increasingly hardline Islamic regime in Ankara, the Turks retaliated by literally flooding the European Union's borders with millions of refugees, aiding their passage and adamantly refusing to take them back. The results we all know. Belarus is now deliberately turning itself into a transit point for such "refugees" (many of them no more than economic migrants, claiming refugee status under international law but not properly eligible for it, as was the case with many of those coming through Turkey).
The trouble is, there are literally millions of economic migrants and refugees on the move throughout the world at any given time. Belarus is openly inviting them to come from all over the world, pass through its territory, and become a burden on the economies and societies of their new European Union host nations. That can only mean an inevitable backlash from the citizens of the EU against any and all such immigration, possibly even leading to attempts to expel those already there - but where will they go if no country is willing to accept them? Syria doesn't want returnees who oppose the Assad regime. Burma doesn't want the Rohingya back. Mexico won't want illegal aliens in the USA from many South American countries, including itself, shoved back onto its territory to find their own way back to their nations of origin.
I can see this trend leading to all sorts of national, international and geopolitical problems, and I don't know that there's any easy solution.