Last summer, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko ordered an elaborate operation that brought thousands of Middle-Eastern illegal immigrants to the Polish border. Could this happen again, but with the action shifting from Belarus to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad?
The Polish government considers this quite likely. According to the Ministry of Defence, there is intelligence information that Russia is preparing a “hybrid attack” on the Kaliningrad border. However, the Ministry did not make the details public. The alleged plan is for Russia to fly planes full of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East to Kaliningrad, and then push them across the border into Poland.
For this reason, the Polish military last Wednesday started to erect a 2.5-metre-high fence with triple razor-wire along the entire 200-kilometer border with Russia – similar to the fence that the Polish government built along 186 kilometers of its border with Belarus last year.
Whether this deterred further migrants, or Belarus froze their operations, is open to debate. As is the question of whether Russia wants to carry out such an operation in Kaliningrad.
Last year, the construction of the fence further polarized the deeply divided Polish society. While the state media strongly supported the action, opponents of the fence accused the government of a lack of humanity, as more than a dozen people died of exhaustion in the Belarusian forests because the Poles refused to let them in.
Now, part of the opposition and the media are already accusing the government of propaganda. Meanwhile, the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) needs to mobilize the electorate ahead of next year’s elections. The higher the turnout, the more certain the party’s victory. And a migrant crisis could help bring out more voters for PiS, who consider themselves supporters of the government.