What are your thoughts on the current border crisis in Poland?

I haven’t seen a thread on this, but I was wondering what 'dopers thoughts are wrt the unfolding border crisis with migrants on the Polish border? There are hundreds (some say thousands…Belarus claims 2000, Poland claims in excess of 4000+) of migrants trying to get into the EU from Belarus (Poland isn’t even the destination, it’s Germany or other European countries they are trying to get to. Poland is just the path to getting where they want to go). The weather is beastly (subfreezing temps, etc). The EU is saying this is a manufactured crisis from Belarus, saying they deliberately invited in migrants, then sent them to the EU, and that this is basically a different way to attack the EU who is in a dispute with Belarus.

I actually don’t know that much about this crisis other than the bare bones, so figured I’d come here and see what 'dopers think. It’s not something that seems to be getting a lot of headlines or discussion on the board. If there is a thread on it that I missed, please link it to me as I did a search and didn’t see anything.

I fall into the category that believes Russia is behind this and they’re working through Belarus m. The Russians would love to keep the anti immigrant passion alive, which leads to more hard right party support and EU chaos.

Map of that part of the world, for those (like me) who may not remember where Belarus is.

Some media accounts:


There is really no excuse for weaponizing refugees this way. Belarus is engaging in hybrid warfare against the EU. I can’t believe that Western powers can’t unite and crack down on Minsk in a way it can’t ignore – by seizing assets or imposing other non-military penalties. Otherwise, our deterrence becomes a joke.

I’m not familiar with this particular crisis, but based on the geography of the area it does lend support to the idea that Russia is contributing to the problem. If these are immigrants from the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc.), wouldn’t they have chosen a more hospitable path through Turkey and then through southeastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, and so on) rather than crossing through a large chunk or Russia, bypassing Ukraine to end up in Belarus?

In this case, the Belarusian regime is deliberately flying refugees from the Middle East to Minsk, then bringing them to the Polish border and cutting through the barbed wire etc to push the refugees through.

Time for Europe to put its money where its mouth is. If they really claim that refugees are good for society, and that humanitarianism is the way to go, then they have no excuse for treating refugees as undesirable.

Many European countries have already done so and are still doing so. Poland and Hungary not so much, I will grant, but from the tone of your post it seems to me that those are not the countries you mean. The biggest and richest European countries are doing their fair share of humanitarian work and integration is working slowly, but better than the far right claims. Others, like Greece, feel overwhelmed by the enormous numbers Turkey is sending on purpose. Now Lukashenko and Putin want to top Erdogan’s game, I don’t think we should make it easy for them to divide us an stoke nationalism, xenophobia and chauvinism. Your post seems a tad too self-righteous for my liking, the spirit is not helpful.
Yes, it is a problem. I hope the sanctions aganst Belarus’ ruling coterie are thoughened so they really bite: freezing of their foreign assets, particularly luxury appartments and villas in the Côte d’Azur and London (alas! no longer in the EU), denying them and their families visa, specially for shopping and student visa, detaining the ones that we can get hold of when there is enough evidence to charge them (see Magnitsky Act, something the USA coöperate with too). At some moment we will have to let those people in, I hope it happens in a controlled manner. We will have to set up camps. The ones in Greece did not work out well, I doubt Poland has the ressources or the political will to do it much better, and winter is coming. The rest of Europe will have to help. Yes, it is a problem indeed, and that is the reason Lukashenko and Putin are resorting to those tactics. I hope some day they will pay for this (and some other deeds too). I am not very optimistic.

From what I’ve read, Poland is doing this as part of an EU policy, not on its own. From what I’ve read, again, none of these migrants are looking to settle in Poland, just pass through on their way to other countries. So, from what you seem to be saying here, why not just let Poland open the borders and maybe just provide transport to them to get to the other ‘richest European countries’? That seems like it would be the best course. As you say…winter is coming, and in fact seems to already be there since they are talking about subzero temperature (though perhaps it’s sub-zero Celsius, which isn’t as bad though still pretty cold for many).

I guess my own question is why wait? Yes, this seems to be a deliberate act by Belarus and perhaps Russia too, but that doesn’t really help these people who are literally out in the cold. Seems like the best thing would be to do something now, then figure out who is to blame and what can be done after they are secure.

I can confirm that it is Celsius. 0°C = 32°F

Only polish Guards, police and military are on site. Journalists, ONGs, civilians or foreigners are not allowed in the area. The armed forces commanders and the Polish politicians are in close contact with the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Josep Borrell, poor chap, he is getting very old and tatty, not the best choice in troubled times), NATO and the defense ministries of the other UE countries, but who is acting an whose behalf (Foreign Ministry? Interior Ministry? Defense Ministry? The President or the Prime Minster directly? When will the Polish Paliament have its say, if at all?) and under which orders is not clear. The situation is chaotic.

That is precisely NOT European policy regarding those matters. We could discuss those policies, their humanity, etc., but that is not a realistic option right now. That is the reason there are refugee camps in Greek islands, in Lampedusa (Italy) in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and so on and not in France (well, Calais… don’t know what the situation is there right now), Germany or Belgium, to name but a few.
ETA: Neither are there refugee camps in the United Kingdom, which is no longer a member of the EU, but is still the favoured destination of many refugees, who speak English better than German or French. Now tell the Brits they should accept them, when they have just left the club to avoid precisely their share of refugees! Boris Johnson would never allow this and if he did, he would not survive it politically.

That is the way I see it too, but if the EU begins solving problems it is not responsible for they fear they might attract many more refugees, thus repeating the massive influx from 2015, which greatly contributed to foster right wing parties (AfD in Germany, Vox in Spain, Lega Norte in Italy…). This is part of the calculation from Mr. Putin and Mr. Lukashenko, and the EU leaders want to avoid this at (almost) all cost. When cynical provocation meets realpolitical resistance the result can look hypocritical. It is still early days, I am afraid this crisis will run for a while and there will be no easy or satisfactory solution. Let’s see what happens when the first refugees start dying of cold and hunger, or if there is an epidemic of cholera or Covid.

Now Lukashenko has suggested that Belarus may halt the flow of the Yamal–Europe natural gas pipeline.

Bear in mind that with the winter weather growing colder and the recent huge increase in prices, this may be a credible threat. The natural gas is from the Russian gas fields and transits Belarus. Central and Western Europe has a high dependency on Russian natural gas and Putin wants to increase this dependency with the opening of the new NordStream 2 pipeline that goes between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Engineering a refugee crisis with Lukashenko in Belarus getting the attention while Putin pulls the strings. The EU pays Turkey several billion to halt the wave of refugees flowing from Turkey to Greece.

This is part of the chess game Putin is playing with the EU and NATO. There will be a new wave of refugees from Afghanistan heading for Europe soon, if conditions deteriorate so much people are starving and there is a humanitarian disaster.

The EU is by no means unified in its response to the refugee crisis. Italy and Greece complain about this bitterly, that they are facing the brunt of the influx. Some countries in Western Europe (such as Germany) have refugee resettlement programmes, but the EU members that were formerly part of the Soviet Union have little experience of immigration some very xenophobic attitudes prevail. No refugee wants to stay in those countries longer than they need to. So this is a way of putting pressure on the largest and wealthiest state in the EU, Germany.

Russia can claim that this is the result of Western interventions in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. They can also point out that the security of Belarus is threatened by troop movements on the Polish border will support them if necessary. There is a lot of sabre rattling going on at the moment, which plays well in Russia.

Sad to say, Putin has shown himself to be a rather better chess player than the the leaders in the West who seem to get themselves into a mess. His intention is to try and divide NATO and the EU. But not so much that they stop paying the gas bill.

Germany still has Merkel, who has a rather better understanding of Putin than most leaders.

Something has to be done to stop the flow of refugees and the conditions that are driving them to leave their homes. That means dealing with the camps in Syria and Iraq and it means the US talking to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

This is the 21st century version of the Great Game between Russia and the Great Powers and the refugees are unfortunate pawns.

Yes, I agree. Only Germany will not have Merkel for much longer. Something is going to happen and it probably will not be good. That this thread has so little track shows to me that the USA do not consider this their problem (yet). I ignore whether Putin is such a good chess player as he claims to be, chess playing is part and parcel of the Sowjet myth, but he sure can cause a lot of mayhem. Dark and cold days ahead.
NordStream2 should actually weaken Lukaschenkos stand, except if Putin shuts it down. Should he? Will he? We shall see how good a chess player he really is.
It is complicated, that much is certain.

It affects the UK as well. For some reason refugees find the UK a far more desirable haven than France and end up trying to cross the English Channel in small boats. This is a big issue at the moment and the UK and France are not seeing eye-to-eye. It is all mixed up with post-Brexit issues and internal politics.

One thing is certain, a lot of these issues can be solved by money.

Pay Erdogan in Turkey. Pay Lukashenko in Belarus. Pay the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pay Macron in France to patrol the coast. Pay Russia higher prices for gas. I expect Iran will be taking a huge number of refugees as well that it can barely afford to deal with because of its isolation.

The UK has refugee resettlement programme for Syrians and a lately one for Afghanistan. But it is very small, about 26,000 in the past 5 years. It operates outside of the EU.

The countries of the EU is quite divided on this subject. Some have nationalist, populist leaders who are reluctant to take any refugees at all. Greece and Italy are in the front line. But far and away the greatest numbers, measured in millions are handled by the countries adjacent Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lukashenko has deliberately opened up an new East European refugee route in order to put pressure in the EU who have imposed sanctions in response to the interception of the a flight carrying one of his political opponents, Roman Protasevich last June.

It tends to suggest that the sanctions are working and he has been looking for a lever. It is, maybe, a sign of desperation. He has also been talking about turning off a gas pipeline, which not help his finances.

Putin also has sanctions to deal with and Lukashenko is useful. Belarus borders several EU states and is a convenient proxy. But Russia holds all the cards, ultimately controlling the supply of natural gas, which is a major source of nation income. The money the flows along with the natural gas is far more important to Russia and it wants that Nord Stream II pipeline operational. It is making a huge income out of selling gas to the EU at the moment.

Based on my current knowledge I’d have to agree with this.

As to whether this is the notion of Lukashenko or he’s just doing a favor for his buddy Putin I don’t know. I’m not sure it makes much difference.

For darn sure there’s little consideration on any side that these refugees are suffering human beings with a real chance of freezing, starving, or otherwise dying in the woods.

That’s evil…

Frankly, I’d be shocked if there weren’t already deaths, especially as there have already been reports and evidence of beatings, and journalists/aid groups/observers are not allowed into the area.

There’s not an “if” to that - conditions ARE deteriorating in Afghanistan. They ARE starting to starve. And freeze. If that group of refugees haven’t show up yet it’s probably because they’re on foot and it takes awhile to make the trip that way.

Part of that is the rule that refugees have to seek asylum in the first EU country they enter, and that country then becomes responsible for them until the claim is decided. That means nations on the southern border of the EU, like Greece, are going to face the lion’s share of such an influx and really are being saddled with the problem. Germany did the right thing by offering to take in a bunch, but they seem the exception and not the rule. I get the impression that some other countries in the EU are going “oh, thank god they can’t reach us first!”

Putin, I gather, is genuinely smarter than the average politician. He wants a weak west, weakened democracies, and lots of dictator buddies to team up with.

Sure, here’s some ideas:

Stop the civil war/unrest in Syria so Syrians will want to stay in Syria as opposed to fleeing for their lives. Good luck with that, get back to us when there’s some progress.

Throughout the entire Middle East stop the terrorism and sectarian killing which, again, will remove a major reason why people want to go elsewhere. Of course, sectarian violence and people murdering each other over religion and resources goes back about 12,000 years in that region so, again, good luck with that.

Even if the US talks with the Taliban in Aghanistan the problem is still the Taliban with a side order of ISIS-K. Anyhow who isn’t a rabid fanatic doesn’t want to live under either of those parties. The US just spent 20 years trying to make that something other than a shit-sandwich and frankly failed miserably. Just like the USSR failed, the British failed… a whole lot of people failed all the way back to Alexander the Great. Anybody else want to have a try at it?

On top of that, we have climate change making that entire swath of the world harder to live in - more heat and/or less water in a part of the world where arid terrain already predominates. The Arab Spring was sprung in part by rising food prices.

So yes, fixing the problems in various locations so people feel less inclined to take horribly hazardous journeys to other parts of the world is a fine idea, but no one really knows how to do that. In fact, it might not even be possible in some instances. On the flip side, the world-wide agreements and customs surrounding requests for asylum and/or dealing with refugees haven’t worked all that well for decades, and weren’t designed for the volume of refugees the world is likely to see in the coming years.

The US is already dealing with problems more pressing and immediate, and at least one political party would rather not have the EU refugee crisis in the news because it would highlight it’s a global problem and not due to their opponents being in power at the moment.

The only thing I know for certain is that the global refugee problem is going to get worse, not better, for the next few decades.

That is just a rule, it can be changed. But only by unanimity in the Council. Good luck with that, as you like to say

I would agree if Putin pursued the right policies. He does not: as you wrote further up:

and an evil policy cannot be really smart in the long term. He is fighting for survival, he knows that if he loses power he may well end up dead or in prison shortly thereafter (not a prophecy, just an assesment of the probabilities he calculates). Muddling the waters is a logical tactic when you are at the end of your thether, very chessy (BTW: Russians do not play chess, they play check mate, Ша́хматы in Russian). Putin would not be the first psychopath in power that feels cornered and tries to go with a bang.

Where are the Mongols when you need them?!?!?

…as seen from the USA. It’s a matter of perspective. And of time, the situation is evolving. BTW: I agree with your general analisys. SNAFU all around.

The UN High Commission for Refugees has the machinery for dealing with this. As long as it has sufficient funding and it is safe to operate in the country in question.

Whether they get enough support is another question and running refugee camps does not solve the political problems that causes people to leave their homes in the first place.


They are talking to the governments involve to get access to the refugees on the Belarus/Polish border. But, that may not happen unless the situation deteriorates and we see some harrowing scenes. Lukashenko is the more ruthless, judging by his treatment of political opponents.


Incorrect. Intelligence is not connected to right or wrong. Putin came out of a meat-grinder of a system, he’s survived by being smart in all the right ways, with perhaps a bit of luck. It is possible to be both smart AND evil.

He has lived a lifetime on those terms. That’s not an end game to him, it’s how he’s lived his life.

Of course, one’s perspective is always from where one stands. Do keep in mind that we had an attempted coup in January and the parties responsible are still at large and planning to run for elected office again. We, like everyone else, are still dealing with a pandemic which has killed 750,000+ of our citizens. And sure, our shortages are nothing compared to that of many nations in more dire straights but shortages they are, with a nervous population. Our western coast has been on fire for months. We’ve had flooding and hurricanes in the south. Our largest hydroelectric plant is running out of water (Lake Mead/Hoover Dam) because the river that waters much of the west (the Colorado) has less and less water for that and for people to drink. We, too, have a refugee crisis on our borders (because Central America is full of violence and with the climate change induced failure of waters sources and agriculture) with our own contingent of heartless bastards who have no problem with suffering humans being killed by the climate (in our case, too hot and too dry) or simply left to die while knocking on the door and begging for rescue.

I really, really, hope Europe is not expecting anything from the US because I don’t know if we have it in us to give it right now. It shames me to say that, but I don’t think there’s the political will - hell, we can’t get our politicians to agree to a budget to keep our own country running and that’s actually in their self-interest.


And the world will get worse before it gets better.

I suspect a lot of nations in Europe (as well as a place like the US) have long thought the UNHCR was for other places and not their own. They may not like that organization on their territory.

As I’ve mentioned - it’s not just political problems anymore. There is also lack of resources, and there is climate change, which feeds into the other two.

Once you pay the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane. The minute these shenanigans become profitable to the people doing them, expect more of it.

The proper response is something that actually punishes the people doing it. Sanctions, whatever. If they try to play hardball with energy, you hit them harder with something else. More sanctions, boycotts, etc.

In the meantime, you announce that their bad behaviour has you rethinking your strategy of buying energy from them, and announce work towards every other kind of energy source and supplier with the intentiin of completely eliminating them as suppliers.

They need to be deterred, not rewarded. I would threaten Turkey with expulsion from NATO, tell them their bid for EU membership is dead until they behave like good neighbors, etc. Some of that is already being done. I’d be more forceful about it.

Germany and Poland have a huge dependency on black and brown coal for electricity generation (25%) Germany decommissioned their nuclear power plants after the Fukushima disaster, the last due to go next year. Natural gas is expected to take up the slack until sufficient renewables become available.
Poland is in a worse position depending on black and brown coal for 72% of power generation. Natural gas is also the fuel for heating. Middle and east europe have a long, long way to go before they can give up first coal then natural gas.

Until then, they have pay Russia. Norway is another source and they supply Western Europe. There are some natural gas terminals on the Baltic to get the gas from other sources in the form of LNG. Norway has increased production and this may bring the price down a bit after the recent crisis when the cost went sky high. Putin tendency to switch off the supply to the weaker economies of Eastern Europe is being mitigated by pumping gas the other way. The EU is also building a lot of electricity interconnects between states. There are some huge wind turbine farms being built in the North Sea that will come on stream in the next few years.

Such pipeline politics have been going on for decades. In truth there are long term contracts in place that are to the benefit of both parties and Russia claims it intends to honour these contracts. If Russia loses the flow of cash for natural gas Russia will be in serious economic trouble. Countries also have natural gas storage, reserves that can last a few months. Energy policy is a long game.

There is a limit to how seriously to take these threats. Putin is not going to let Lukashenko do anything that harms Russian interests. He is a puppet. The sanctions against Belarus are probably hurting and this opening of an East European refugee route looks like a desperate gamble. The numbers are not high at the moment, a few thousand. It would be easy to spread them around the EU and then try to stop the flights to Minsk in Belarus. There is talk of sanctions agains the airlines involved.

The threat is that there will be a repeat of 2015 and mass migration of a million refugees from Syria and Iraq through Turkey to Greece. The EU paid 6 Billion to Turkey to keep 4 Million refugees and Germany took in about 1.3millon, mainly from Syria.

The refugee crisis is fall out from the wars that have taken place in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan in which the US and allied countries played a significant part. Something Putin is keen to point out (carefully omitting to mention Russias involvement in Syria). Most of the burden is carried by the countries immediately adjacent to these war zones.

I am wondering if the world economies migrate to renewables rather than Oil and Gas there will be fewer war zones and broken countries?

^ This. That is why you do not reward bad behavior.

The problem is that dictators have figured out how they, personally, can avoid the hardships of imposed sanctions and it’s the common people who suffer and suffer. The hurt those with least power and those with the most power escape their effects.


Because, while oil and gas are contributors, they are not the only reason for war. Climate change is going to affect territorial borders, water supply, and the ability to grow food. That’s going to provide plenty of excuses to go to war.