Putin's game may end in Russia absorbing Belarus: official

“I am afraid that the sudden ‘upswing’ in Russia’s activity does not bode well for [Alyaksandr] Lukashenka. Putin's game may end with the absorption of Belarus by Russia,” Jakub Kumoch, the head of the Presidential International Policy Bureau, assessed in an interview with the “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” (DGP) daily, commenting on Russia’s involvement in the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border.

Mr Kumoch was asked by the daily how the conflict on the Polish-Belarusian border should be resolved. He said that for Poland there is no option to take a step back in this situation.

“We will not revoke the sanctions [imposed on Belarus] and we will not tolerate the regime's persecution of thousands of Belarusians. We will not stop admitting Belarusian political refugees, we will not recognise Lukashenka as the elected president. We will not open the border to people smugglers as we would thus destroy the Schengen Area and threaten the security of the entire region,” he said.

When asked about Putin's intentions and a narrative saying that “Russia must react to the concentration of forces by Poland at the border as part of its alliance obligations towards Belarus,” he stated that “Russia creates problems so it can later participate in solving them.” Mr Kumoch added that the recent “upswing in the country’s activity does not bode well for Alyakdandr Lukashenka” and could ultimately lead to “the absorption of Belarus by Russia.”

When asked what kind of reaction Poland expects from the EU regarding the crisis on the border, he replied that political support is needed.

“We are able to [physically] defend the Polish border, but still not all voices coming from the West... are in full solidarity. Some diplomats claim that Poland exaggerates the issue, some countries remain silent about it,” he pointed out.

“[Angela] Merkel's phone call to [Vladimir] Putin was unfortunate because it gave the impression that the conflict was taking place on the EU-Russian border. Meanwhile, this is the EU-Belarusian border. Calling on [Vladimir] Putin for help is neither effective nor beneficial to us. It may be perceived as a license to increase [Russian] control over Belarus. Poland is not interested in this. We are facing the regime, not the people of Belarus, which is a brotherly nation and has the right to live in an independent state,” he added.

Mr Kumoch also stressed that President Andrzej Duda positively assesses the government's actions regarding the defence of the border.

“At the same time, the President also emphasises the humanitarian aspect very often. We are not going to illegally let anyone into Poland, but we also realise that sometimes the lives of these people have to be protected,” he stressed.

When asked why the president did not convene the National Security Council (RBN), he explained that “the RBN meeting would make sense if all political forces were able to reach a consensus on the defence of the border.”

“Unfortunately, the events of recent months have shown that this is not the case. We have seen everything: speaking out [by the opposition] against our own services, appealing to let everyone in [to the country], opposing the reinforcement of the border. I believe that the President is doing the right thing [regarding the border crisis] when a part of the political scene is questioning the actions of the state. The leader is expected to make decisions, not debate,” he assessed.