WARSAW, Poland (ChurchMilitant.com) - While Polish troops are valiantly defending Poland's eastern border with Belarus from violent surges of migrants, its powerful neighbors are playing dangerous political games threatening Poland's sovereignty — again.
Leadership at the European Union sent this week 700,000 euros (almost $800,000) to Belarus, ostensibly for humanitarian aid for migrants at the Polish border. European Union commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarčič said, "I am calling for continuous access of humanitarian organizations from both sides to reach this large group of refugees and migrants and to provide them with assistance."
By immediate response to an appeal, the @EU_Commission is allocating initial humanitarian funding for people stranded at the Belarus-Poland border.— Janez Lenarčič (@JanezLenarcic) November 17, 2021
This EU funding will support the @ifrc and its national Belarus Red Cross as well as other partners to deliver much needed relief. pic.twitter.com/bDB3ohSf1L
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, admitted that the support amounting to 700,000 euros may be increased, and asserted, "Europe stands by the side of the people imprisoned on the border with Belarus." The funds are purportedly being used for food, hygiene kits, blankets and first aid kits.
A contact in Poland wishing to remain anonymous told Church Militant the E.U. decision represents "a slap in the face" to his nation. He highlighted Brussels' "disregard for the well-being of the people guarding the border" and for its "utter refusal," thus far, to help fund a border wall.
Another Pole responded, via email, to the European Union's recent decision:
The thing is as it was to be expected: We cannot count on Europe. I guess we cannot count on the USA either. Not with this "president."
What is sad is the fact of the fifth column within our country. Many artists, musicians, actors and actresses, politicians, counsellors, journalists and other traitors act against their own country. They might not like this government but curse against their own border guards, against their own soldiers?
Full of pity because on the other side are "poor immigrants" but at the same time not seeing that for example in Poland a priest was murdered, that another one was threatened because of the hatred launched by feminazists [sic] or that 12 policemen were recently seriously wounded by the "poor immigrants"?
Polish publication Do Rzeczy reacted to the European Union's generosity to Belarus' migrant project, calling it a "victory" for Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.
Adding salt to Poland's wounds, just days ago, the European Union slapped penalties on Poland. On Nov. 11, Brussels passed a resolution to sanction Poland for its protection of unborn babies via the October judgment of its Constitutional Tribunal. The date of the blow did not go unnoticed by Poles — Nov. 11, the day that commemorates the reemergence of Poland as a country after a century of being erased from the European map by its more-powerful neighbors 103 years ago.
In a further development, Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Belarus' president, Alexander Lukashenko, held telephone calls this week about the border crisis at Poland's eastern edge.
Referring to the phone calls, Poland's president, Andrzej Duda, said on Wednesday that the migrant crisis on his country's border with Belarus should not be resolved by others, and decisions should not be made "above our heads."
Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he told Merkel that no deals concerning Poland should be made without his government's consent. "Nothing about us without us," he declared. Morawiecki's remark "not about us without us" ("nihil de nobis, sine nobis") refers to a longstanding principle that no policy should be decided without the direct participation of those whom the policy directly impacts. The meaning is Germany should not negotiate with Belarus — or Russia — about Poland without Poland's involvement.
The prime minister also warned that any direct talks with Lukashenko "legitimize" his regime. His remarks refer to sanctions imposed against Belarus by the European Union in response to "the fraudulent nature of the August 2020 presidential elections in the country." Many see Lukashenko's weaponization of migrants at the border as the Belarusian president's way of kicking back at the European Union for the sanctions.
Just days prior, Morawiecki called on NATO to assist in resolving the crisis, adding that Poland, along with the also-migrant-affected Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia, will appeal under Article 4 of the alliance's treaty for provisions.
The biggest elephant in the room may prove to be Russia and its role in the border crisis, including its recent "upswing" in activity near the Poland-Belarus border. Belarusian and Russian airborne units have been sighted recently taking part in joint military exercises near a large migrant encampment on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland.
Sources argue the endgame of Russian president Vladimir Putin may be to absorb Belarus into a position similar to those of the satellite nations of the Cold War. Others argue Putin is engaging in a proxy war against the European Union and the United States. By encouraging — even engineering — the flow of migrants to the Polish border, he can destabilize the European Union and, by a ripple effect across the Atlantic, the United States.
Morawiecki, earlier in November, pointed to Putin as a prime mover in unfolding events as he spoke to the Polish Parliament. The prime minister echoed sentiments during the time of the partition, saying, "Neo-imperialist politics of Russia are advancing."
The Polish leader referred to Lukashenko as "executor" of the border fiasco and to Putin as his "enabler" who "shows a determination to carry out the scenario of rebuilding the Russian empire, the scenario that we, all Poles, have to forcefully oppose," he added.
A complex set of threads is allowing the crisis at the Polish–Belarusian border to materialize. One point is clear, however: Poland is being used as a pawn in the political games of its powerful neighbors to its west and east.