U.S. and G7 demand Belarus end "callous" migrant crisis with Poland
Belarus opens shelter, flies some migrants and refugees home, but suffering continues for thousands caught in the Russian-backed nation's "hybrid" battle with the West.Belarus' Russian-backed regime has said it is trying to de-escalate the tense situation along its border with the European Union by flying some of the thousands of migrants who came to the country, hoping to cross onto EU soil, back home on repatriation flights.
President Joe Biden must hammer Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko’s regime with economic sanctions to sow dissension within his “cliques and cronies” regime, according to opposition leader Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya, who identified the crisis as a test of the new president’s pledge to confront authoritarianism. © Provided by Washington Examiner
“In this struggle, world struggle, between democracies and autocracies, it's very important to show your teeth,” Tikhanovskaya told the Washington Examiner. “At the moment, Belarus is on the front line of this struggle.”
Biden has cast his foreign policy as an effort to ensure the victory of democratic powers in a systemic competition with autocrats. That emphasis from the White House is driven by the intensifying competition with China, but it has heartened Tikhanovskaya and her allies attempting to force Lukashenko into negotiations.
How a Manufactured Migrant Crisis Showed That Europe's Last Dictator Can Rattle the E.U.
How a Manufactured Migrant Crisis Showed That Europe's Last Dictator Can Rattle the E.U.An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people, mostly from the Middle East, are now huddled in freezing campsite tents awaiting permission to enter the European Union because Lukashenko decided to turn men, women and children into battering rams as retaliation for E.U. sanctions and diplomatic isolation owing to his theft of last year’s presidential election; his ongoing imprisonment and torture of political opponents; and his hijacking of a European airliner earlier this year to arrest a dissident journalist who was on board.
“They understand only the language of sanctions, and they're afraid of sanctions,” she said of the regime. “And we are waiting for a split of elites, because of sanctions ... Lukashenko is also dependent on businesses around him, businesses of his cronies that are based on the work of oil industry, of potash industry. And they will put pressure on him.”
Potash fertilizer is the regime’s second-largest export after refined petroleum, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
“We tried many times to appeal to this regime diplomatically,” she said. ”They don't hear. They understand only the language of sanctions. And they're afraid of sanctions. We understand that sanctions, as I say, it's not a silver bullet for the solution of the crisis in Belarus, but they are very powerful for a change in behavior of the regime.”
Ukraine Spending $640 Million to Build Fence Along Russian, Belarusian Borders
In response to the recent migrant buildup in Belarus, Ukraine will build a fence along its borders with Belarus and Russia to keep migrants out.Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrskiy said funds for the fence should be gathered next year, with the project's cost being an estimated 17 billion hryvnas, or $640 million.
That rhetoric has heartened Belarusian activists, but they worry economic interests will cause Western leaders to pull their punches in the fight with Lukashenko.
“It's business interests,” Tikhanovskaya said, who wants Biden and other officials to be a “strong voice now for democratic changes because it's what you have to defend. Not profit, not incomes. It's something bigger than just existing profit of your enterprises and of your countries.”
BRUTAL BELARUS CRACKDOWN SETS BACK US EFFORT TO PRY NATION FROM RUSSIA’S ORBIT
That’s a persistent dynamic as Western officials debate their policies toward authoritarian governments. Tsikhanovskaya, who was forced to leave Belarus after challenging Lukashenko in the 2020 presidential campaign that ended in mass protests against election fraud, visited Washington the same week the Biden’s administration and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s teams unveiled an agreement related to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany — a pipeline that Biden and Eastern European allies opposed due to the leverage the project will give the Kremlin.
Poland: Belarus eyes using Afghan migrants as border pawns
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Poland’s leader on Sunday warned against more possible migrant pressures on the European Union’s border with Belarus, this time coming from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke in Vilnius following talks with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte about ways of solving the “very difficult situation” at the borders of EU members with Belarus. He was on a one-day tour of meetings with the prime ministers of EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which have also been hit by the migrant pressures.
European governments, and the European Union as a bloc, have made a concerted effort to punish Lukashenko, particularly after his regime forced a commercial airliner to land under a false pretext to arrest a journalist traveling from Greece to Lithuania.
But even those sanctions left most of the potash industry unaffected, due to “loopholes” that Tsikhanovskaya hopes Biden will close.
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"Your policy shouldn't be profit-oriented but values-oriented," she said. “It’s a moral obligation."
Tags: News, White House, Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, Belarus, Russia, Foreign Policy, Sanctions
Original Author: Joel Gehrke
Original Location: 'Show your teeth': Belarus opposition leader tests Biden's willingness to fight autocracy
Lukashenko Offers to Host Russia's Nuclear Weapons, Recognizes Crimea as Part of Russia .
"I would offer Putin to return nuclear weapons to Belarus," said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko amid increasing tensions between Russia and NATO. © Photo by Leonid Shcheglov/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko visits a centre for migrants that remain in the country after attempting to cross into the EU via the Polish border, near the Bruzgi border point on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region on November 26, 2021. In an interview with the Rossiya Segodnya news agency on Tuesday, Lukashenko was asked about the possible move of U.S.