Threat to weaken control of EU border: attempt to lower stakes in next round of dialogue with West
On April 18, a representative of the State Border Committee of Belarus said that because of the sanctions imposed against Belarus, the agency would loosen control over the out-migration, and give priority to inbound migration, in particular on the Belarusian-Polish border.
The threat voiced by the Border Committee is clearly a political order from the country’s leadership. The sanctions had no impact on migration flows through Belarus and did not impose additional burden on the Belarusian border guards.
Special reference to the Belarusian-Polish border, where the control will be loosened in the first place, most likely is a political message to the Polish Foreign Ministry, which was the first one to react to the release of two political prisoners last week and demanded to release the rest.
Finally, border services’ statement reflected the “dissenting opinion” of the Belarusian security forces close to the eldest son of President Viktor Lukashenko. This group inside Belarus is the least interested in resolving the conflict with the EU, as political tension allows them to expand the sphere of their influence, and justifies the use of habitual repressive measures in the public administration.
“Viktor Luakshenko’s Group” embraces the KGB leadership. The latter on April 18 issued a threatening statement about a network operating at the Belarusian-Polish taking illegal immigrants from countries with terrorist activity over to the EU. The KGB statement implies that so far this illegal activity was contained.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.