Current state of the Polish-Belorussian border crisis
Over the past few months, the Belarusian authorities have intensified hybrid warfare activities against the European Union. Illegal migration, organised with the participation of Belarusian services, is intended to destabilise political situation and threaten security of Poland and the European Union. The situation, which is changing dynamically every day, brings more information and challenges.
Military cooperation between Russia and Belarus
Over the past year the Belarusian regime and the Russian administration have signed several agreements and arrangements enhancing cooperation between Russian and Belarusian security structures. Some of these documents are directly linked to the protection of the Union State's borders. The cooperation between Russia and Belarus plays an important role in the assessment of the events taking place at our border with Belarus.
In November 2020, the Belarusian Interior Ministry and the Russian Rosgvardiya signed in Moscow a "cooperation agreement". The document postulated joint exercises of officers, cooperation as regards public order, protection of objects of critical infrastructure or of strategic importance. It tackled also the cooperation in the field of "fight against terrorism and extremism". The agreement consolidated the cooperation between two states and it also ensured legal framework for Russia to support structures of Belarusian OMON used to suppress street protests and potential riots. This agreement could be launched for example in the event of a revolt or riots. It is on the basis of this document that the Belarusian regime may ask Russia for help with ensuring "internal order".
Minsk and Moscow signed subsequent agreements in 2021. In March, talks were held between Russian and Belarusian special services that focused on the cooperation in the format of the Union State. Finally, the agreement was signed in September in Sochi. During the talks held for several months, some experience concerning borders' protection was shared and means of countering threats caused by "external factors" were discussed. Most of joint talks and messages directed at public opinion included anti-West narratives. New documents were presented as a response to the alleged aggression of the West.
In June 2021, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and the Belarusian State Security Committee signed an agreement on increasing cooperation as far as fight with "destructive activity of the West" and "aggressive politics of the US and western countries" are concerned. Another agreement was signed in September in Sochi during the College of the Union State Border Committee. During the signing ceremony the common foreign policy was discussed, including the protection of borders and border areas of the Union State, as well as cooperation of Russian and Belarusian border services. Also an agreement was signed aiming at "improving joint reactions against violation of external borders of the Union State".
The last of numerous agreements was signed on 4 November in Moscow. Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko discussed and accepted the agenda of deepening Belarusian-Russian integration within the framework of the Union State for the years 2021-2023. Also the new version of the military doctrine was approved, which includes a strategy that is "agreed and adapted to the current security situation". Again, the document was prepared on the basis of the main thesis concerning neutralization of "dangers connected to the hostile activity of the West".
Over the past year, Russia and Belarus have signed agreements that create framework for cooperation of security and order services of both states and for joint border protection. As a result of these agreements, a conflict at the Union State's border may be solved together by Russian and Belarusian services, which means that the border crisis deliberately created by the Lukashenko's regime must be analysed from the perspective of joint actions of Russian and Belarusian services against Poland.
Spokesman for the Minister-Coordinator of Special Services
Russian troops build-up in Ukraine
Alarming reports about Russia amassing troops near its border with Ukraine have reached the media over the past few weeks and days. It has raised concern among officials in the Europe and United States. In light of latest developments the Ukrainian military carried out tank drills in the eastern Donetsk region, after holding a special operation involving 8,500 extra troops, drone exercises and anti-tank and airborne units at its border with Belarus. On November 26th the Polish Prime Minister has expressed a full political support for Ukraine's integrity.
Polish humanitarian aid offered so far with regards to the border crisis
Since the beginning of the "migration operation" organized by the Belarussian regime Poland has offered three humanitarian convoys to help to the migrants who arrived in Belarus.
First convoy was sent already on 22 August. Two following convoys were sent on 27 August and 23 October. Despite previous official request (with the diplomatic notes) all of them were stopped at the border, immediately rejected with official notes and publicly discredited in media.
Recently, on 11 November PL has once again offered a humanitarian transport. Our non-public, very cautious signal was well received within the Belarussian MFA but we have not received a final official response (there is probably some external pressure from outside the BY MFA).
On 12 November the Ministers of Home Affairs of LV, LT, PL, EE and AT sent a letter to international organisations (including UNHCR and IOM) with the petition to provide humanitarian assistance to the migrants suffering in Belarus.
On November 16th in Geneva Polish Ambassador informed officially the UNCHR that Government of Poland would like to offer the UNHCR humanitarian assistance in-kind, to be provided/distributed to people in need gathered in Belarus close to the border zone with PL.
The Polish Governmental Agency for Strategic Reserve is ready to provide support immediately. We are ready to do it bilaterally or through the UN agencies.
The Border Patrol outposts have been visited by Polish Ombudsman.
Migrants that have crossed the border illegally are offered medical assistance, and should their condition require it, they are hospitalised in local facilities. Over the last week several medical interventions took place. EMTs patrol the near-border area 24/7.
Polish Centre for International Aid
The medical team of the Polish Centre for International Aid (PCPM) has started its mission on 16th November and it shall offer medical assistance for all in need of one. The team consisting of over 100 medical professionals will continue the mission of the NGO Medycy na Granicy (Doctors on the border). The PCPM team is the first and the only rapid response Emergency Medical Team certified by the WHO and specifically trained to deal with humanitarian crises or natural disasters. It's previous experiences include emergency missions in Lebanon following the Beirut port explosion, post-earthquake rescue missions in Nepal, rapid response missions following landslides in Peru or floods in Bosnia. Members of the PCPM EMT have also offered medical assistance during Euromaidan protests. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the team has launched 10 medical missions on 3 continents.
Offers aid to the migrants in cooperation with local churches and Polish Border Patrol. The near-border regions are offered material as well as financial support. Caritas Poland has launched its first humanitarian aid initiatives in the near-border region as far as august 2021.
Upon Caritas Poland's initiative, polish security forces and local parishes hand out Help Packs to the migrants. So far over two thousand have been handed out. The packs contain water, energy bars, first aid blankets as well as hand warmers. Food, clothing, cleaning supplies and toys are delivered to migration centres. Caritas has also set a number of "Hope Tents" across the border. A detailed display of aid offered so far can be located on Caritas Polska website.
On November 21st, upon the decision of the Chairman of the Episcopal Conference, Apb Stanisław Gądecki, a fundraising initiative took place in all Polish parishes. Near - border Caritas branches are also heavily involved in helping migrants. Over the past few days 1200 blankets, 800 towels as well as funds have been donated to migrant centres.
Aid point in Michałów
At the beginning of October, upon decision of the local mayor, an aid point has been established in Michałów, in Podlaskie Voivodeship. The 24/7 aid point will offer clothing, warm meals and items.
Polish Humanitarian Action
An established NGO offering humanitarian aid all over the world is also involved in collecting funds. Those will be used to purchase food supplies, clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, first aid kits and thermoses. The organisation also plans to find any necessary medical visits as well as cover the costs of psychological assistance.
WOŚP aid point
Polish NGO Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (WOŚP) has launched an aid point on October 8th. The 24/7 aid point is aimed towards all volunteers, emergency organizations and all people of good will that are committed to help migrants and need to stock up on necessary supplies. The point offers all necessary first aid supplies, basic medical equipment, food, water and clothing.
Many initiatives are launched locally by concerned citizens. A fundraising campaign has been launched by the Muslim community in the near-border village of Bohoniki. So far over 400 bottles of water have been donated alongside many food supplies and clothing. Local fundraising is also organised by the Grupa Granica association as well as the newly formed Białowieża Humanitarian Action.
Houses located next to the border turn on green lights at night. The Green Light initiative is meant to offer emergency assistance to migrants in need. Local citizens offer warm meals, the opportunity to charge any electronic devices or medical supplies.
Basic necessities - personal hygiene materials, food and other items necessary to survive in difficult conditions have been sent to the Polish-Belarusian border on 25th November. The items have been collected upon the Poznan Adam Mickiewicz University initiative. The most necessary goods, including bottled water, as well as food helping to maintain caloric and nutritional values, were included in the transport. The transport also included basic medicine, thermal blankets, sleeping bags, headlamps, backpacks, chargers and powerbanks.
Press access to the near-border zone
In response to provocations and disinformation Press Centre will be established at the border; it will be opened on 3 December. It will support ongoing communication concerning the situation at the border. Thanks to appropriate infrastructure, it will enable journalists to work on site. The Centre will hold press conferences as well as special workshops with experts on Eastern issues concerning the geopolitical situation.
On December 1st new rules have been introduced with regards to press access to the near-border zone. For security reasons, access will be coordinated by the Polish Border Guard. Editorial offices should notify of their willingness to participate in a visit beforehand as no more than one journalist or photojournalist from a given editorial office may participate in a particular visit (for TV crews, the journalist may be accompanied by a camera operator). The Border Guard ensures the conditions necessary for organisation of visits in order to ensure the protection of media. In order to participate in a visit, it is necessary to undergo security training organised directly before the commencement of that visit as well as wear a vest with the word "PRESS" on it identifying the participant as a member of the media. Transportation for participants is provided by the Border Guard in cooperation with the Polish Armed Forces and other uniformed services, depending on organisational requirements.
Ljubljana, Dec. 2nd 2021