March 18 – March 24, 2024
Security issues

Against the backdrop of the renewed migration crisis, NATO prepares for a new escalation

The situation has not changed
Against the backdrop of the renewed migration crisis, NATO prepares for a new escalation

Recent events indicate Russia and Belarus’s preparations for a new escalation of the conflict with Kyiv and NATO’s “eastern flank.” While the Kremlin increases the intensity of missile strikes on Ukraine and tests Poland’s air defense with the flight of cruise missiles, the Belarusian regime is renewing migration pressure. Anticipating a new round of escalation, France considers sending a military contingent to Ukraine, including deploying troops on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.

Polish authorities plan to increase military presence in the border voivodeships amid the country’s airspace violation by a Russian cruise missile during a massive shelling of western Ukraine. The regions planned for protection are located on the northeastern border of Poland with the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation, the border with Lithuania (an internal EU border), and the borders with Belarus and Ukraine.

The increase in military presence at the border includes investments such as the construction of new storage facilities for units. Civil defense organization will become one of the security measures. All actions are aimed at deterring potential enemies.

Poland also plans to begin upgrading the fence on the border with Belarus in April. This is due to illegal migrants pushing through the bars and crossing it. Electronic monitoring systems are also insufficiently effective. Furthermore, the Military Publishing Institute (Wojskowy Instytut Wydawniczy, WIW) under the Ministry of Defense records the beginning of a new wave of illegal migration from Belarusian territory. Since March, more illegals are trying to penetrate the country’s territory — up to 130 cases per day. On March 20 and 21, 499 attempts to cross the border were registered at once. Meanwhile, the border between Lithuania and Latvia was relatively calm. On March 21, Lithuanian border guards did not record any violators, and Latvian guards reported 18 attempts.

Therefore, due to repeated illegal border crossings, it was decided to start work on expanding and strengthening the barrier. In particular, by the end of 2024, Warsaw plans to begin constructing an electronic barrier along the water section of the border with Belarus. Overall, since the start of the migration crisis in 2021, Polish border guards have already recorded more than 80,000 attempts to illegally cross the Belarusian-Polish border.

Thus, with the onset of warmer weather, migrants have again become active on the borders of Belarus and the European Union. Moreover, the closure of border crossings between Finland and Russia, where migrants rushed at the end of 2023, played a role.

Finally, French President Emmanuel Macron is considering the idea of creating a mission of European soldiers on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. France is also creating a coalition of allies, likely including Poland and the Baltic states. The search for other allies among European countries is ongoing. Germany opposes this, considering it an unnecessary escalation.

Macron is considering three options for sending European troops to Ukraine. The first is a joint base for training and ammunition production in western Ukraine. The second does not create a separate location for the contingent but has groups of French military where they are needed (without direct foreign military participation in combat). The third option involves deploying the mission on the border with Belarus, which would free up Ukrainian military from this direction and allow strengthening the Eastern and Southern directions.

Thus, ideally, the deployment of French/NATO troops on the border with Belarus should deter Russia and Belarus’s preparation for a new offensive from the north, as an attack by the Russian-Belarusian troop group on them would lead to NATO’s entry into the conflict.

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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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