By supporting the persecution of migrants, Belarus bolsters Russia’s hard line

Written by Staff Writer, CNN

The war is not over, but this week marks a turning point in the battle of neighboring Belarus and Poland, with the former’s President Alexander Lukashenko preparing to host a regional migration meeting in Minsk.

With massive returns from 2016 elections and talk of forming a neo-Soviet bloc, Belarus has been taking an increasingly hard line on the issue of migrants, and Lukashenko is expected to announce his support for the introduction of a quota system in which migrants from Afghanistan and the former Soviet Republics who manage to pass to Poland will be given asylum in Belarus.

Lukashenko has long used refugee camps as part of the lavish welfare state he has built in Belarus, which hosts 12% of the country’s population and receives aid and support from Russia. Even Ukraine, itself ruled by a nationalist former KGB agent, was a client state of Ukraine until much later in its history.

Migrants fetch water from a canal on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus, in October 2018. Credit: KOELER/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Visiting the country earlier this week, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said he was “positive and pro-active” towards plans to deport migrants from Afghanistan, according to the government-controlled Algemein.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. national security adviser, has warned that Lukashenko’s planned measures could be a casus belli for the West.

“The remarkable, sometimes amazing, thing about Lukashenko is that he’s a paradox. With his characteristic xenophobia and paranoia, he actually looks out for other people’s interests,” he told Algemein.

“But by pretending to be pro-Western and protectionist, his whole policy is actually seeking to turn his own country into a neighboring Russia.

“This policy must and can and will cause problems for the Western world.”

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