There is a growing threat of a provocation by a third party at Belarus' border with Poland and Lithuania.
After dozens of Russian spies were uncovered in Belarus, military attaches were expelled on espionage suspicions and in the spring of 2019 Russian ambassador Mikhail Babich was kicked out, while Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was regularly briefed on subversive efforts of Russian agents, in August 2020 Lukashenko dramatically changes his rhetoric, declaring a threat to Belarusian sovereignty allegedly coming from the West.
Indeed, the fact of how abruptly Alexander Lukashenko changed his vector could testify to either a cunning game of distraction played by a maneuvering expert, or his complete surrender to the Kremlin pressure, including through agents of influence in his immediate entourage, including the pro-Russian camp in the Belarusian security agencies affiliated with the Russian intelligence community.
Lukashenko's recent allegations of a certain threat unfolding at the western borders even forced head of the Polish President's Chancellery Krzysztof Szczerski to issue a statement that the rule of international law including, of course, the sovereignty of the Belarusian state, is a priority for Warsaw.
NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu responded to such verbal attacks by reminding of the Alliance's exclusively defensive function, adding that Lukashenko's allegations about an imminent threat coming from the West are merely his speculations.
But let's look into the fact that these very speculations are somehow being planted into Lukashenko's mind, and this is obviously not just to turn the Belarusian leader against the West and NATO. After all, when the degree of distrust between the countries rises, any provocation organized by a third party may look quite plausible. And it's no accident that I mentioned Gliwice in the article's title...
It was the attack on the radio station in Gleiwitz, which went down in history as the Gleiwitz provocation staged by Nazi Germany's SS, that on August 31, 1939, became the pretext for the German attack on Poland. Modern-day Russia, the heir to Nazi Germany's propaganda traditions, is still widely using such methods.
For example, in February 2018, two arson attacks were reported at the office of the Hungarian Culture Society in western Ukraine's Uzhgorod. This incident sparked major diplomatic misunderstanding between Ukraine and Hungary, also inciting an anti-Ukrainian wave in media space, primarily designed by Russian and pro-Russian platforms.
Later it turned out it that behind the arson effort stood two Polish nationals, members of the radical neo-Nazi group Phalanx, whose leader Bartosz Becker is vocal supporter of Vladimir Putin, a NATO critic, and a fan of boogeyman stories about Ukraine's bloodthirsty Stepan Bandera followers. The traces of the attack's mastermind led to a pro-Russian lobbyist in Germany, and then further to Moscow.
The conclusions of the investigation came as no surprise but it took months to draw them up, while creating a myth about Ukrainian neo-Nazis burning down Hungarian cultural centers took literally hours, maybe days (!!!) , which is sufficient to proceed to the next stage of the active measure.
But let's get back to Belarus… Taking into account Alexander Lukshenko's rhetoric, Poland and Lithuania should brace for such provocations – both deep in the Belarusian rear and in close to the border. Russia definitely has sufficient resources both in Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus to do the dirty job. Besides, if Russia lacked such assets, they could easily bring in a group or more GRU "tourists" or "sightseers" from Major General Andrei Averyanov's infamous Military Unit No. 29155. However, these guys have only been coming to a spotlight lately amid their failures in Montenegro, UK, France, and Bulgaria...
Strengthening the myth about the western threat that goes beyond the scope political and informational meddling but also infringes on Belarus' territorial integrity will completely sever relations between Minsk and the West and at the same time allow the Kremlin to launch a full-fledged and irreversible Anschluss scenario. If necessary, it will involve setting up "people's republics" whose residents Russia will say it needs to protect from "NATO troops " (in 2014, in Ukraine, this was Bandera followers and the Right Sector radicals who were supposedly the threat to Crimea residents).
In fact, Russia is very predictable and primitive in the sequence of its steps in Belarus. In order to hide its oversight of the Belarusian opposition, as well as participation in protests, catalyzing and radicalizing them, Moscow has created a large-scale information wave, blaming the West for the unrest. Minsk has completely fallen for this narrative, thus also becoming a "pawn" in the game of the Russian intelligence services, where it's only Moscow who moves both white and black pieces on the chessboard.
Now the narrative is being molded of the imminent invasion from the West, which in fact must be seen as a direct threat from the opposite direction. A hybrid invasion is being prepared from the East. And unfortunately, I believe the Belarusian "Gleiwitz", perhaps with certain nuances of the modern times, is now in the making…