Opinion: gauntlet thrown down to the West

Polish-Belarusian border. Photo: PAP/Wojtek Jargiło

Since the beginning of the crisis created by Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime at the border with Poland, it has been clear that a migratory route is a form of operation with aims that go far beyond migration issues, writes Stanisław Żaryn, the spokesman for Poland’s Minister-Special Services Coordinator.

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The activity undertaken against the NATO eastern flank countries constitutes the aggression carried out with methods below the threshold of war, by a typical proxy. That is why the Alliance should observe these events and analyse them through the prism of contemporary hybrid threats for member states. The operation of the Minsk regime is in fact a part of a much more serious plan, hostile to our region.

Russia – the real beneficiary of the attacks against the West

Russia, carrying out for many years its actions against the West, simultaneously using diverse forms of aggression, is the real beneficiary of the attacks against Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. This time is no different. The activities undertaken by Lukashenka’s regime aimed at destabilising the EU and NATO borders are completed by other aggressive actions by Russia and Belarus, targeting the Alliance countries. Minsk and Moscow are waging constant and systematic information warfare against the West, in particular discrediting the NATO eastern flank countries. Russia also uses energy blackmail, military pressure, air provocations and psychological games. Its objective is to weaken Europe. At the same time, the Kremlin has been developing its offensive capacities for years, through military modernisation. It has also been waging a war against Ukraine and has been occupying the territory of Moldova and Georgia.

Typical Russian hostile methods

Russia is carrying out the aforementioned actions in a typical manner, brutally fighting for its influence and interests. At the same time propagating lies while manipulating the overview of its actions and presenting the notion that it is the West, not Russia, that constitutes a threat and is destabilising the world. The areas of Moscow’s activity listed above, when analysed and assessed separately, do not reflect the scope of real threats. But all together, they show the Russian aggression that presents a challenge for the whole western community.

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The main objective is further destabilisation

In recent months we have observed systematic actions to enhance Russian interests in our region. Currently, Russia is fighting for domination over Ukraine and stopping its integration with the West. It also wants to force a withdrawal of NATO presence in the eastern flank countries. These are other bridgeheads that would give the Kremlin the possibility of further combat with the West. The Russian strategic aim is to push American interests out of Europe, to paralyse and ridicule western structures – especially NATO, and, simultaneously, to create new possibilities for influencing the West and carrying out further destabilisation.

Hidden threats and belligerent intentions

Russia is masking with great ease its real aims and the threats derived from them. It uses proxies, is active on different fields which appear to be less significant and not connected with each other. But the whole issue should be described as it really is – in recent months Russia has increased pressure on Europe, has counted on enhancing its ability to influence the West and it has thrown down the gauntlet to the whole Alliance.

The author is the spokesman for Poland’s Minister-Special Services Coordinator.