Last year, in a series of articles devoted to Russia's influence toolkit applied internationally, through the media, experts and politicians, I focused including on the issue of illegal migrants. In my article "Radical Refugees in Kremlin Service in Europe and Worldwide," I described in detail the scheme where, by provoking chaos, Russia destabilized Europe with waves of refugees, infiltrated by intelligence agents.
Russia has inherited this technique from the USSR, widely employing it during the first and second Chechen wars, as well as after the official deployment of its troops into Syria where they sided with Bashar al-Assad in the local civil war. Then, the flow of Syrian refugees destabilized the EU and popularized populist and racist sentiments across member states, which in turn pumped popular ratings of political forces using such rhetoric and financed by the Russians. Besides, this allowed hundreds of agents of the Syrian and other special services to get to Europe alongside actual refugees.
So, right now, Belarus is already applying in practice Moscow's rich experience in the multifunctional use of refugees and illegal migration tools. To be more precise, this is in fact a joint effort, by Moscow and Minsk.
To date, the Baltic states are confronted by a rather serious challenge from Belarus. After all, it is from this country that hundreds of illegal immigrants have been literally storming Lithuania lately.
And while a few years ago, crowds of Syrians stormed the EU, mostly penetrating European borders through their land part under the close supervision of Serbian guides, today it’s Belarusian security forces that perform these functions. Not only do they meet migrants arriving in Minsk through Russia, they also accompany them to the border with Lithuania.
In fact, the Kremlin, through Minsk, is now pursuing migration terrorism across the EU countries, as they’ve already done before. Indeed, the scale might not be the same as in 2015 or 2016, but even today the effort is sufficient to destabilize the region in Lithuania, as well as in neighboring Estonia and Latvia. Also, in line with the scheme already tested in previous years, such tactics applied by Moscow and Minsk could lead to massive promotion in the said countries of sentiments that would be beneficial specifically to Russia.
So far, nothing’s new under the sun. Unfortunately, Europe is yet to figure out how to effectively repel such hybrid threats, which is their main problem at the moment.