June 17 – June 23, 2024
Belarus-West relations

Poland is considering the possibility of completely closing the border with Belarus.

The situation has not changed
Poland is considering the possibility of completely closing the border with Belarus.

Warsaw is considering the possibility of completely closing the border with Belarus due to constant migration pressure on its frontiers. Poland hopes to engage China in this campaign, as Chinese trade with the EU partly depends on rail transit through Belarus. However, concessions from the regime are unlikely in both scenarios (passenger flow blockage/trade blockade).

As Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski stated, Poland might completely close border crossings with Belarus, similar to Finland, due to the ongoing pressure from illegal migrants from Belarus. Warsaw is currently analyzing the issue and assessing the potential negative impacts on the Polish economy.

Representatives of the Belarusian democratic forces in exile advocate for Polish restrictions to target the Lukashenka regime, not the people. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya criticized the idea of abandoning Belarusians to their fate behind a new iron curtain, emphasizing the importance of maintaining Belarusians’ connection with Europe. Therefore, their mobility should be ensured even amidst regime provocations.

Previously, the head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Pavel Latushka, called for the closure of all commercial border checkpoints with Belarus while requesting to keep passenger checkpoints open for Belarusian citizens. The aim is to compel the Lukashenka regime to cease or reduce its participation in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, end mass repressions against Belarusians, release political prisoners, and stop the hybrid war using migrants against Poland and other EU countries.

Furthermore, Warsaw counts on China to exert pressure on Lukashenka. In this context, Polish President Andrzej Duda intends to discuss the situation on the border with Belarus during an official visit to China. The visit’s agenda focuses on security and economic issues, particularly in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war and ongoing hybrid attacks by Belarus on the Polish border. This issue is crucial as it relates to economic matters, especially Warsaw’s cooperation with China under the Belt and Road Initiative, which envisions creating land routes for transporting Chinese goods to Europe via Belarus. According to Duda, this route is currently restricted due to the hybrid attack conducted by Belarusian authorities on the Polish border.

Thus, Warsaw is seriously considering the option of closing the border with Belarus. In the first scenario (blocking passenger flow), Belarusian citizens would clearly suffer, and the regime would benefit (including in the battle against brain drain and labor outflow). In the second scenario (introducing a trade blockade), increased pressure from Beijing on Lukashenka might be expected, but it is unlikely to critically impact the regime due to Minsk’s prevailing dependency on Moscow and the significantly deteriorated trade ties with Europe. It is evident that concessions from the regime are highly unlikely in either scenario.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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